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02 May 2018 Photo Charl Devenish
South Campus UAP celebrates 27 years of access to education
Mr Francois Marais, Prof Kalie Strydom, Prof Daniella Coetzee (South Campus Principal), Prof Francis Petersen, Dr Nthabeleng Rammile (Vice-Chairperson of the UFS Council), and Dr Khotso Mokhele (Chancellor of the UFS).

More than 27 years ago, international funding from the Human Sciences Research Council and Anglo American was put to an unusual use for that time. Prof Kalie Strydom’s research unit at the University of the Free State (UFS) was tasked with reviewing how institutional missions would change in the new South Africa. Prof Strydom worked closely with surrounding communities in Bloemfontein to develop a bridging course which would help students who showed potential to access tertiary education, although they did not meet the requirements. His vision brought to birth the University Access Programme (UAP), as it is known today, which is hosted on the UFS South Campus, and is still providing unique access to higher-education institutions in South Africa.

People with a passion for human development
March 2018 saw the 27th anniversary of this remarkable initiative, which has given a second chance to over 18 000 students. Special guests at the event included Prof Strydom, Mr Francois Marais, and representatives from the Department of Higher Education and Training and Investec’s corporate social investment office.

Dr Sonja Loots, researcher in the UFS Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL), singled out two key individuals in the formation of the UAP: Prof Kalie Strydom, who initiated the programme, and Mr Marais, who has been Director of the UAP since its inception. Dr Loots highlighted one of the driving forces behind Prof Strydom’s perseverance, vision, and determination with the UAP by quoting from an interview with him for an upcoming book on student access and success. He said, “It was a decision based on principle … to be part of the solution to a better country.”

Access and success still an issue today
In his presentation on the “Importance of Access”, Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, pointed out the vital role of access in South Africa, especially the value it offers for the betterment of the country’s people. However, he said that student success is also an issue, and institutions need to be accountable for it. Quoting Prof John Martin of the University of Cape Town’s Faculty of Engineering, “We must be flexible on access, but robust on success.” Only by “closing the loop” in this way, can the UFS and other higher-education institutions ensure a valuable contribution to the economy of the country.

News Archive

UFS Ground Studies Laboratory receives accreditation to international standard
2016-03-18

Description: IGS Tags: IGS

Lore-Mari Deysel, Deputy-Director of the institute for Groundwater Studies.
Photo: Charl Devenish

The Institute for Groundwater Studies (IGS) Laboratory at the University of the Free State is on equal footing with international testing labs. With its accreditation in March 2016 by SANAS (South African National Accreditation System), the IGS Laboratory now officially meets global standards.

Quality of water

The IGS Laboratory mainly analyses the quality of water samples. When it was originally established in 1989, the lab’s central function was to conduct testing for researchers at the institute itself. “After the public and water boards realised their need to analyse water samples, the IGS Laboratory expanded to deliver a service to these clients,” says Lore-Mari Deysel, Deputy-Director of the institute.

Since suppliers and regulatory authorities will not accept test or calibration results from a lab that is not accredited, the IGS initiated the accreditation process.

Accreditation to international standard


In order to be deemed technically competent and able to receive accreditation, labs must meet the ISO/IEC 17025 standard. ISO/IEC 17025 was first issued in 1999 by the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) and the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission).According to Deysel, this is the single most important standard for calibration and testing laboratories around the world.

“Laboratories that are accredited to this international standard have demonstrated that they are technically competent and able to produce precise and accurate test and/or calibration data. Furthermore, it demonstrates that the university has the capacity to supply valuable and reliable services alongside the academy,” Deysel says.

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