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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

CTL experiments with mobile technology in teaching and learning
2016-05-23

Description: CTL experiments with mobile technology  Tags: CTL experiments with mobile technology

On the left is Nokukhanya Nkosi, Researcher and Project manager at the Centre for Teaching and Learning presenting Annah Nggoepe her brand new laptop as part of the project which assesses the impact of personal mobile devices on teaching and learning.
Photo: Supplied

Video clip

Same curriculum. Add technology. Wait and see what happens. This research project which is funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) seeks to understand the impact of personal mobile devices (PMD) in teaching and learning.

The University of the Free State (UFS), in conjunction with the University of Cape Town, the University of the Witwatersrand, the University of Johannesburg, and Sol Plaatje University, was approached by the DHET to spearhead this national collaborative project. Investigating whether the financial investment of a PMD on either the part of a university or of students adds value to the teaching and learning experience is the overall objective of the project.

Contemporary education
The Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL) at the UFS have been taking an active part in the project since 2015, focusing specifically on the use of personal mobile devices in teaching and learning by both staff and students.

At the student level, the study will focus specifically on not just the obstacles that first-generation students face in terms of using technology in teaching and learning, but how institutions can support these students through access to these devices.  “In 2015, the CTL conducted the Digital Identity Study of students which highlighted the view that students at the UFS deemed laptops to be the most important PMD in their studies,” said Nokukhanya Nkosi, Researcher and Project manager at the CTL.   

In April 2016, thirty students were presented with laptops funded by the project grant. For the next two years, the CTL will assess whether these laptops enable greater flexibility and effectiveness of teaching and learning, both inside and out of the classroom for these students.  

Rise of the digital classroom
Annah Ngoepe, a second-year Geography and Environmental Management student taking part in this study, commends the shift from using only textbooks in the past to incorporating technology. “The laptop has the latest applications and programmes, which are convenient for me as a student, because they help in my learning. I can also download textbooks, get summaries of the textbooks, and even other people’s views on a particular subject online.”

Tiana van der Merwe, Deputy Director at the CTL, anticipates that, after two years, the Centre would be able to make not only institutional recommendations, but also recommendations to the National Department of Higher Education.

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