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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

Prof Jonathan Jansen steps down as UFS Vice-Chancellor and Rector
2016-05-16

Statement by Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS (pdf)

Statement by Judge Ian van der Merwe, Chairperson: UFS Council

Prof Jonathan Jansen will step down as Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State (UFS) on 31 August 2016.

He will take up an invitation as a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University in the USA in September 2016. The fellowship, which was awarded to him earlier this year, is an opportunity for him to further advance his career as an internationally renowned academic in education. Prof Jansen’s departure is a great loss for the university, but the Council accepts his decision to step down and pursue his academic career as well as other opportunities.

The Council is grateful for the vision and the inspirational leadership that Prof Jansen provided during his tenure at the UFS. He has led the university through difficult and complex times – from after the Reitz incident up until the recent student protest actions. He brought stability and respect for the university – nationally as well as internationally.

The Council appreciates Prof Jansen’s drive to further the academic performance and transformation of the UFS. To this end he was instrumental in the improvement of student success and graduation rates, the increase in the percentage of academic staff with doctoral qualifications, the increase in research outputs, the growth in staff diversity, and the growth in third-stream income.

Furthermore, Prof Jansen played a significant part in developing the UFS as a place where the embrace of diversity and the integration of the university provide a backdrop for academic excellence. Under his leadership, the UFS made great strides in fulfilling its social responsibility to serve the community. He was the right leader at the right time for the university.

On behalf of the Council and the entire university community, I thank him for his contributions as a capable, energetic and dedicated leader and wish him the best for his future.

Prof Jansen was appointed as Vice-Chancellor and Rector on 1 July 2009 and his term of office was extended for another five years by the Council on 1 July 2014. 

In the event that the position is not filled by the end of August 2016, Prof Nicky Morgan, current Vice-Rector: Operations at the UFS, will act as Vice-Chancellor and Rector. The Council will shortly start the process to appoint a successor through a national and international search.

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