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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

Suspension of the South African Doping Control Laboratory (SADoCoL) by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)
2016-05-04

The senior leadership of the UFS and the management of the South African Doping Control Laboratory (SADoCoL) take note of the decision by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to suspend the laboratory’s accreditation to perform doping control analysis on biological samples of athletes and sportsmen and -women until 30 September 2016. During this time of suspension, all sport-related samples will be sent for analysis to the WADA accredited laboratory in Qatar until the accreditation of SADoCoL is re-established. Analysis according to WADA accreditation will therefore not be interrupted during the period of the suspension of the accreditation of SADoCoL.

The announcement by WADA on 3 May 2016 follows a voluntary decision by SADoCoL in March 2016 to temporarily close the laboratory for some of its routine analytical duties for six months, as from 1 April 2016. The decision was taken in consultation with the senior leadership of the UFS and other role players, especially the Department of Sport and Recreation of South Africa (SRSA) and the South African Institute for Drug-Free Sport (SAIDS). SADoCoL is a specialised service laboratory of the University of the Free State (UFS) and has been in existence for more than thirty years.

Due to the ever-increasing demands on the number, variety and analytical sensitivity of compounds to be analysed according to the Prohibited List of WADA, technical and infrastructure adaptations need to be implemented in the laboratory continuously to keep up with the demands. Over the last year, SADoCoL has drastically increased its capacity in both personnel and infrastructure, to a point where these changes can be implemented for optimal performance of the laboratory.  This has to be done while normal routine analysis continues, and it became clear that at present, implementation cannot be successfully accomplished together with the workload from normal routine analyses.

The time of suspension will be utilised to implement and test these new systems in order to achieve the standard presently required by WADA, as well as to perform development and improvements.  This development will be performed in close collaboration with other role players in the anti-doping movement in South Africa, such as SAIDS and SRSA. Scientific development aid will also be acquired from other doping control laboratories worldwide in order to assure that the high analytical quality is maintained and expanded to meet the fast growing challenges in this field. The progress of the process will be closely monitored, and the upgraded methodologies will then, after rigorous testing, be implemented to ensure that the required analytical quality is maintained so as to obtain re-accreditation by WADA at the conclusion of the suspension period.

Issued by: Lacea Loader (Director: Communication and Brand Management)
Telephone: +27(0)51 401 2584 or +27 (0) 83 645 2454
E-mail: news@ufs.ac.za
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