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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

Meet our Council Members: Derek Foster, ethical and responsible leadership role model
2016-05-18

Description: 2016 05 18 Derek Foster Tags: 2016 05 18 Derek FosterMr Derek Foster
Photo: Stephen Collett

Derek Foster was elected to the Council of the University of the Free State (UFS) in October 2012. He was the first Chartered Accountant (South Africa) to be appointed to Council because of the role he could play through his training, background, and experience. In particular, it was his knowledge of corporate governance, ethics, and reporting that led to his serving currently on the Audit and Risk Committee, the Finance Committee, and the Investment Committee of Council.

This Kovsie alumnus qualified as chartered accountant at the UFS in 1978. During his student years, he played rugby for Oud-Studente, and served in the Evening Student Representative Council.

Until December 2010, Derek was a partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers, which he joined in 1972 as a rookie when the company was still known as Meyer, Nel and Co. Nowadays, he is a business consultant and company director, serving on the boards of NWK Limited, Cancer Association of South Africa (national), and Samba Cooperative Limited.

His background and knowledge of auditing shine through strongly when it comes to the manner in which he sees his role as Council member. “The contribution which I can make to the Council of the university is to ensure that management executes strategy and policy appropriately, as formulated and approved by Council, in the best interest of the university community. Of course, this should be done in an ethical, sustainable manner, taking into account the risk environment we find ourselves in. We need to provide ethical leadership, and ensure that the UFS is a responsible corporate institution,” he says.

Work obligations are keeping him very busy, but his four grandsons are equally high on his priority list. He met his wife, Sally, at Kovsies, another reason why the university is close to his heart. “Everything I do, I want to do with enthusiasm and passion, and I want to make a difference wherever I go. I would also like to be a good grandfather, and set a memorable example to my grandchildren,” he says.

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