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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

Council approves Transformation roadmap
2007-06-08

The Council of the University of the Free State (UFS) today (Friday 8 June 2007) approved a comprehensive Transformation Plan in an effort to deepen and accelerate transformation at the UFS.

According to the Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS, Prof. Frederick Fourie, transformation projects will be undertaken in key areas of university life, such as:

  • the institutional culture of the UFS;
  • the core academic business of the university ;
  • governance and management of the institution;
  • as well as a specific focus on employment equity.

Prof. Fourie said the UFS now has a very comprehensive transformation roadmap of what must be done, when it must be done and who is responsible for implementation.

“In other words, we have a do-able plan of action”, said Prof. Fourie. He said the plan is based on the belief that the UFS should treasure diversity as a source of strength and quality.

The plan is an outcome of several consultative processes, including the work of a Transformation Plan Task Team that was specifically established to do the initial thinking and liaison with stakeholders to map out critical transformation issues.
He said the overarching objective of the plan is to establish the UFS as an excellent, non-racial, non-sexist, multicultural and multilingual university, where all staff and students can experience a sense of belonging.

Prof. Fourie said one of the top priority projects of the plan has already been achieved, namely the approval by the UFS Council of new policy guidelines to increase diversity in student residences.

The new policy guidelines were approved by the Council today (Friday 8 June 2007) and are grounded in an educational approach that is grounded in the benefits of learning and living in a diverse environment.

Other projects outlined in the Transformation Plan include among others:

  • ongoing diversity sensitisation for staff and students
  • an investigation into the possibility of a diversity module for first year students
  • a project to establish the key elements of and ways of cultivating a sense of belonging among staff and students.

In the academic terrain the plan seeks to heighten the responsiveness of the UFS as a research institution specifically with regard to the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations as well as the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (ASGISA), and the HIV/AIDS pandemic among others. The inclusion of indigenous knowledge systems in curricula as far as is possible will also be investigated.

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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