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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 academics nominated for NSTF Awards
2016-05-19

Description: Zakkie Pretorius Tags: Zakkie Pretorius

Prof Zakkie Pretorius

Prof Zakkie Pretorius and Prof Maryke Labuschagne, researchers in the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS), have been nominated for the 2016 awards of the National Science and Technology Forum (NSTF) in partnership with South32.

The NSTF awards recognise outstanding contributions to science, engineering, and technology (SET) and innovation for researchers and other SET-related professionals. The awards are referred to as the ‘Science Oscars’ of South Africa, as they are the largest, most comprehensive, and most sought-after national Awards of their kind. Among other things, the NSTF aims to celebrate, recognise, and reward excellence in science, engineering, technology and innovation within the SET sectors.

Prof Pretorius was short-listed as a finalist in the category: Lifetime Award for an outstanding contribution to SET and innovation by an individual over a period of 15 years or more.

Description: Maryke Labuschagne Tags: Maryke Labuschagne

Prof Maryke Labuschagne

He works on crop quality and disease resistance in the field crops research chair headed by Prof Labuschagne in the Department of Plant Sciences. Disease-resistance breeding is a continuation of the internationally-acclaimed wheat rust research that Prof Pretorius has been conducting during his career.

Prof Labuschagne is a finalist in the category: Special Award in Crop Science and Food Security. This is a special award by the NSTF this year, in honour of the 2016 International Year of Pulses, as declared by the United Nations.

Prof Labuschagne heads the research chair on quality and diseases in field crops at the UFS. Her research, and that of her students, focuses on the genetic improvement of food security crops in Africa, including such staples as maize and cassava.

At a Gala Dinner on 30 June 2016, the finalists will be honoured before the Minister of Science and Technology, the patron of the occasion, announces the winners of the 2015/2016 awards.   

 

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