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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

German Ambassador speaks on universities as agents for transformation
2016-05-25

Description: German Ambassador speaks on universities  Tags: German Ambassador speaks on universities

Eva Ziegert, JC van der Merwe, Lindokuhle Ntuli, Anita Ohl-Meyer, Ambassador Walter Lindner, Tali Nates, and Prof Leon Wessels at the dialogue session hosted by the IRSJ
Photo: Johan Roux

“Change is facilitated through education, not by means of radicalism, violence, or revolution.” Speaking at the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS) on Thursday 12 May 2016, the German Ambassador, Walter Lindner, urged students to engage in profitable dialogue instead, keeping their values and ideals in mind while changing the system from the inside.

The Institute for Reconciliation and Social Justice (IRSJ) hosted a full day of dialogues and discussions, the highlight of which was a critical dialogue with Ambassador Lindner, entitled “Universities as agents of transformation in society—Germany’s experience with the student protests of the 1968 movement and the difficulties it has reconciling with its past.” This was followed by a student colloquium, hosted by the Student Representative Council, which concluded with the second in the Africa’s Many Liberations seminar series, co-hosted by the IRSJ and the International Studies Group (ISG), with the title of “Fanon and the relevance of personal and collective decolonisation in today’s South Africa”.

Mr Lindner related his experience of student protests in Germany during the late 1960s, drawing certain parallels with South Africa’s own recent protests. According to Ambassador Lindner, it is “the impatient youth that drives forward change”, but cautioned against radicalism as a long-term solution.

Pointing out the various challenges facing humankind today, such as the lack of natural resources, unbridled climate change, and population growth, Mr Lindner stated that politicians (and the youth of today) would do well to focus on these greater issues, rather than focusing on the more mundane issues with which they are faced on a day-to-day basis.

The subsequent dialogue session was facilitated by Tali Nates, Director of the Johannesburg Holocaust and Genocide Centre. A diverse array of questions and comments, both radical and more conservative, was directed at the ambassador, which he handled with unflappable aplomb.

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