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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

Johann swims his way to Olympics
2016-05-18


Johann van Heerden from the University of the Free State has qualified for the Paralympic Games in the swimming pool, and is now waiting to hear if he will be included in the South African team. Photo: Nadya van Heerden.

In the past couple of months, Johann van Heerden has been swimming his way to the Paralympic Games, and is still preparing as if he will be going to Rio de Janeiro.

The Kovsie swimmer, who will know whether he has been included in the Paralympic team in July 2016, feels his training is progressing well. The Olympics will be held in Brazil from 7 to 18 September 2016. If all goes well, this could be the first of several Olympics for the 20-year-old second-year Education student from the University of the Free State (UFS).

Dream year for Education student

Van Heerden (cerebral palsy), whose hero is the former Paralympic superstar Natalie du Toit, has had huge successes in the run-up to the 2016 Olympics. Among others, he was named the best senior swimmer at the Nedbank National Championships for the Physically Disabled in Bloemfontein in March 2016. At the South African Senior Championships in Durban in April 2016, he qualified for the Olympics in the 100 m breast-stroke with an A-qualifying time, and in the 50 m and 100 m freestyle with B-qualifying times.

Only three male swimmers to Olympics

However, he has to wait until the announcement of the South African Paralympic team, since only three male and three female swimmers will be selected. He will not be competing in another major event before the Olympics. “My short-term goal is to compete in this year’s Games, and, in the long term, I would like to reach even greater heights at the 2020 Games,” he said. Du Toit is an inspiration to him because “she was hard-working, and she had a lot of drive”.

Other students from CUADS also excel

At the above-mentioned National Championships, Van Heerden won a total of five gold medals (200 m medley, 100 m breaststroke, 50 m freestyle, 50 m breaststroke, and 200 m breaststroke) and one silver medal (100 m freestyle). Other students from the Center for Universal Access and Disability Support at the UFS also excelled.

Dineo Mokhosoa (cerebral palsy) won three gold medals (long jump, shot-put, and discus), while the athlete Louzanne Coetzee (blind) shattered the world record in the 5 000 m, as well as the Africa record in the 1 500 m. Juanré Jenkinson (cerebral palsy) won two silver medals (discus and shot-put) while Danie Breitenbach (blind) won two gold medals (800 m and 1500 m).

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