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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

New guidelines to increase diversity in student residences at the UFS
2007-06-08

As from 2008, the University of the Free State (UFS) will implement new policy guidelines for student residences so as to increase diversity on the Main Campus of the UFS in Bloemfontein.

These new policy guidelines were approved by the Council of the UFS today (Friday 8 June 2007) after consultations with a range of stakeholders, especially students currently in residences, student leaders and student organisations, with inputs received from alumni and parents as well.

According to a statement by the Chairperson of the UFS Council, Judge Faan Hancke, and the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, Prof. Frederick Fourie, the guidelines are based on an educational rationale with a definite educational objective.

“What the UFS seeks to do with these new policy guidelines, is to overcome the racial divides of the past and equip students in residences with the knowledge and skills to understand people from other cultures, appreciate other languages and to respect differences in religion but also economic background,” Judge Hancke and Prof. Fourie said in their statement.

“This will give students in UFS residences a distinct advantage over many other work seekers in South Africa, because the workplace today is a very diverse place with people of many backgrounds,” Judge Hancke and Prof. Fourie said in their statement.
They said the UFS wanted to establish a new model of residence life in which students will voluntarily embrace diversity and learn about diversity so as to add value to their educational experience in a residence.

In the late 1990s the UFS made the first attempt to integrate its residences which led to violent clashes between white and black students. A compromise agreement was reached based on freedom of association but this has over the years led to the current situation of largely white and largely black residences.

To support students during the implementation of the new policy guidelines, the management of the UFS will establish several mechanisms and programmes for students to empower them, to build their capacity and to facilitate a smooth transition to a new model of student life in the residences.

Judge Hancke and Prof. Fourie said the decision is another important milestone in the ongoing transformation of the UFS and in the provision of quality higher education for all UFS students, and that the decision had been taken in the best interests of the students.

“This is a very carefully managed transition to bring about a non-racial character to our student residences in line with the Constitution and the ethos of a democratic South Africa,” Judge Hancke and Prof. Fourie said.

How the new policy will work in practice

As from 2008, the new policy aims to bring about an important shift in the way first-years are placed in a residence. From 2008 first-year students are to be placed to achieve a minimum diversity level of 30% in each junior residence.

In senior residences a mix of approximately 50-50 will be the goal from 2008.
Residences will be responsible for placing 50% of first-years, which gives them the scope to increase diversity. The university’s accommodation service will place the other 50%. All these placements must occur in accordance with the educational rationale and the related diversity objective.

If a residence cannot reach the diversity objectives, the university will use the 50% of placements that it controls to achieve sufficient diversity in a particular residence.

Support mechanisms for students

According to Dr Ezekiel Moraka, Vice-Rector: Student Affairs, students in the residences will not be left on their own to deal with the issues of diversity. The management of the UFS has identified several important areas where the process may need support, especially in the early stages of implementation. Students and student leadership will be involved in the further design and finalisation of the implementation details.

These areas where support will be finalised are the following:

  • Providing properly trained and qualified personnel (such as live-in wardens, residence heads etc.) to supervise the implementation of the policy on a 24-hour basis;
  • Ongoing orientation workshops for all students in residences to deal with diversity in a mature way;
  • Support to deal with language issues, including interpreting services so that language rights of all students can be respected; and
  • Assistance with the review of residence governance, administrative and other procedures that have been used in residences up to now.

“There can therefore be no doubt that the management is committed to the well-supported and successful implementation of this new policy and to giving the best possible education to all our students,” Judge Hancke and Prof Fourie said.

Media release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za
8 June 2007
 

 
 

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