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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

UFS warmly welcomes prospective students at Open Day
2016-05-19

Description: 2016-05-14 Open Day Blfn Tags: 2016-05-14 Open Day Blfn

Prospective students of 2017 were treated to an Open Day filled with various activities on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State.
Photo: Johan Roux

"There is a great deal of political and financial pressure on universities in South Africa, and that is exactly why the country’s future leaders need to be trained at the top universities."

With these words, Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State (UFS), welcomed prospective students in the Callie Human Centre on the Bloemfontein Campus as part of the Open Day held on 14 May 2016. The UFS is a place where students can fulfil their dreams.

Learners were welcomed warmly on a cold day filled with various activities, and invited to become part of the Kovsie family. Prospective students were treated to many surprises, like a laser show and a performance by South African Music Award-nominated artist, Kyle Deutsch, who performed his popular crowd hit, ‘Back to the beach’, at the informal welcoming ceremony.

Examples of true Kovsies

Prof Jansen said at the official welcoming that graduating from the UFS does two things: It gives a student a Kovsie degree, and it helps to make them decent human beings in a divided country. He encouraged the learners to be as humble as the World 400m champion, Wayde van Niekerk, and to love without borders like Tanya Calitz, the Kovsie Dux of 2015. They are examples of what it means being a true Kovsie.

An information centre – which included on-site applications and a stall with KovsieGear merchandise – was stationed in the H van der Merwe Scholtz Hall, while residences and student associations also had stalls on campus. In the Main Building, parents were able to meet Prof Jansen.

Deans and faculties encourage

Apart from various presentations and interaction with staff, the learners were also welcomed by the deans of their faculties. Prof Danie Vermeulen, Dean of the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, said they must study what they love. “Live your own dream. That is why you come to university.”

“The UFS Faculty of Education is a training centre for leaders. We develop leaders with a commitment to serving the community,” said Prof Sechaba Mahlomaholo, Dean of the Faculty of Education.

Click here to see a highlights video of the Bloemfontein Campus Open Day, or here for a video of the Qwaqwa Campus Open Day.

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