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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

“A night of celebration” – Dr Van der Merwe
2016-05-04

Description: “A night of celebration” – Dr Van der Merwe Tags: “A night of celebration” – Dr Van der Merwe

The University of the Free State Faculty of Health Sciences held its annual prize function on 11 April, to celebrate the achievements of its top students from the three schools within the Faculty. Dr Lynette van der Merwe, undergraduate programme director at the School of Medicine, described the night as a celebration of success on many fronts.

The School of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health Professions gave students various awards, medals, and trophies for their academic performance and achievements in 2015.

Students encouraged to seize the day

Professor William Rae, Head of Medical Physics at the School of Medicine, was the occasion’s guest speaker. He encouraged students to use the limited time each one of them has in the world to the best of their abilities by always seizing the day. “As prize winners, be leaders, changers in the world. Seek more, appreciate diversity, and mingle with people different from you; always overflowing with joy,” concluded Prof Rae.

Best overall students


Belinda Meyer received the award for best final-year student in the School of Allied Health Professions. Hailing from Potchefstroom, Meyer obtained her Bachelor in Occupational Therapy degree with distinction, and was nominated as the top achiever of her year.

In the School of Medicine’s undergraduate medical programme, Pieter Jan Louw was recognised as the final-year student with the highest academic achievement in all study years. He went on to receive his degree cum laude.

Michelle Horvath, a BSocSc Nursing student, received an award for being the student who displayed the most professional growth during her training. Her years of study were described as being characterised by perseverance and a sense of duty and professionalism.

And lastly, the trophy for the student with the best results in a first Bachelor’s degree in the Faculty was awarded to Karl Nicholas Sachse, who completed his degree in BMedSc (Radiation Sciences) cum laude. Recognised as one of the top five students in his first, second, and third years of study, Sachse is currently doing his BMedSc Honours in Medical Physics.

The evening carried with it its own special ambiance as achievements were celebrated by students, their families, and staff members from the Faculty.

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