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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

South Campus first in SA to introduce new online platform for educators
2016-05-25

Description: South Campus online platform for educators  Tags: South Campus online platform for educators

Dr Whitty Green (DHET), Phillip Dikgomo (NDBE), Ernst Stals (Free State Department of Education), Isaac Mogotsi (Nothern Cape Department of Education), Tsatsi Montso (Free State Department of Education), Prof Daniella Coetzee (Principal: South Campus), Steven Bailey (Academic Partnerships), and Prof Judy Zimny (Academic Partnerships)
Photo: Eugene Seegers

The South Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS) has become the first in South Africa to introduce a completely online platform for educators to obtain the Advanced Certificate in Teaching (ACT) in either Foundation, Intermediate, or Senior Phase.

Beginning with the first start date of 4 July 2016, this platform will be offered in nine or ten 8-week sessions. It will provide educators the opportunity to complete these certificates in 18-20 months compared to the 24 months usually required by part-time university students.  Academic and technological support will also be provided.

Unique platform

Prof Daniella Coetzee, Principal of South Campus, said that she is thrilled, “as this opportunity for educators to earn a qualification 100% online - is a first for both the UFS and South Africa.”  This opportunity represents tremendous strides in providing options for South African educators.

According to Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the UFS, human connectivity is a key component of education: “We should never reduce education to a stranger at a distance without any human interaction. That is also why the UFS has been consistent in promoting not only its Academic Project, but the Human Project as well.” He said that it would not be possible to extend second-chance opportunities to students without partnerships with government, non-profit organisations, local and international academic partners, and other external stakeholders.

Specific challenges addressed

In her presentation, Prof Judy Zimny, who is affiliated with Academic Partnerships (a company that has supported more than 40 universities in providing high-quality online programmes for educators) aligned a number of the challenges described by South African leaders in supporting educators with opportunities now available through online education as a result of recent strides in learning technologies.

Various members of the national education sector were also present at the workshop to give their input: Isaac Mogotsi (Northern Cape Department of Education), Phillip Dikgomo (National Department of Basic Education - NDBE), Dr Whitty Green (Department of Higher Education and Training - DHET), Tsatsi Montso (Free State Department of Education), and Ernst Stals (Free State Department of Education).

For educators interested in pursuing an Advanced Teaching Certificate (ACT), the website will soon be populated with all admission and enrolment information for programmes starting on 4 July 2016, 29 August 2016, and 24 October 2016.

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