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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

Names are not enough: a molecular-based information system is the answer
2016-06-03

Description: Department of Plant Sciences staff Tags: Department of Plant Sciences staff

Prof Wijnand Swart (left) from the Department of
Plant Sciences at the UFS and Prof Pedro Crous
from the Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures (CBS),
in the Netherlands.
Photo: Leonie Bolleurs

South Africa is the second-largest exporter of citrus in the world, producing 60% of all citrus grown in the Southern Hemisphere. It exports more than 70 % of its citrus crop to the European Union and USA. Not being able to manage fungal pathogens effectively can have a serious impact on the global trade in not only citrus but also other food and fibre crops, such as bananas, coffee, and cacao.

The Department of Plant Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS) hosted a public lecture by Prof Pedro W. Crous entitled “Fungal Pathogens Impact Trade in Food and Fibre: The Need to Move Beyond Linnaeus” on the Bloemfontein Campus.

Prof Crous is Director of the world’s largest fungal Biological Resource Centre, the Centraalbureau voor Schimmelcultures (CBS), in the Netherlands. He is also one of the top mycologists in the world.

Since the topic of his lecture was very pertinent to food security and food safety worldwide, it was co-hosted by the Collaborative Consortium for Broadening the Food Base, a multi-institutional research programme managed by Prof Wijnand Swart in the Department of Plant Sciences.

Reconsider the manner in which pathogens are identified

Prof Crous stressed that, because international trade in products from agricultural crops will expand, the introduction of fungal pathogens to new regions will increase. “There is therefore an urgent need to reconsider the manner in which these pathogens are identified and treated,” he said.

According to Prof Crous, the older Linnaean system for naming living organisms cannot deal with future trade-related challenges involving pests and pathogens. A system, able to identify fungi based on their DNA and genetic coding, will equip scientists with the knowledge to know what they are dealing with, and whether it is a friendly or harmful fungus.

Description: The fungus, Botrytis cinerea Tags: The fungus, Botrytis cinerea

The fungus, Botrytis cinerea, cause of grey mould
disease in many fruit crops.
Photo: Prof Wijnand Swart

Embrace the molecular-based information system

Prof Crous said that, as a consequence, scientists must embrace new technologies, such as the molecular-based information system for fungi, in order to provide the required knowledge.

He presented this very exciting system which will govern the manner in which fungal pathogens linked to world trade are described. This system ensures that people from different countries will know with which pathogen they are dealing. Further, it will assist with the management of pathogens, ensuring that harmful pathogens do not spread from one country to another.

More about Prof Pedro Crous


Prof Crous is an Affiliated Professor at six international universities, including the UFS, where he is associated with the Department of Plant Sciences. He has initiated several major activities to facilitate global research on fungal biodiversity, and has published more than 600 scientific papers, many in high impact journals, and authored or edited more than 20 books.

 

 

Biography Prof Pedro Crous
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B


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