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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

nGAP lecturers welcomed by the UFS academic community
2016-06-30

Description: nGAP lecturers group photo Tags: nGAP lecturers group photo

University of the Free State’s newly-appointed nGAP
lecturers. From the left, Neo Mathinya,
Phumudzo Tharaga, and Kelebogile Boleu.

The University of the Free State (UFS) was allocated six positions as part of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) New Generation of Academics Programme (nGAP). Four candidates have filled positions in the Faculty of Health Sciences, Faculty of the Humanities and the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences – with two positions still vacant.

According to Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande, nGAP is part of the Staffing South Africa's Universities Framework, which focuses on the expansion of the size and compilation of academic staff at South African universities, especially with regard to transformation. The focus of the programme is the appointment of black and coloured candidates as well as women.

The Department of Soil, Crop, and Climate Sciences in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences welcomed two nGAP lecturers, Phumudzo Tharaga and Neo Mathinya. The Faculty was allocated four positions. Two positions are filled, while two positions in the Department of Animal and Wildlife Sciences are almost ready to be filled with exceptional candidates.

Agrometeorologist with his feet on the ground
Phumudzo Tharaga holds an MSc from the UFS, and is currently pursuing a PhD. Tharaga’s research focuses on quantifying the water use efficiency of sweet cherry orchards under different climate conditions in the Eastern Free State. Tharaga will offer his students a wealth of practical experience, which he began accumulating while working at ABSA as an agro-meteorologist, before moving on to become a senior scientist at the South African Weather Service. In 2015, Tharaga became a research technologist at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and then returned to the UFS as an nGAP candidate at the beginning of 2016.  

Description: Beynon Abrahams, nGap lecturer  Tags: Beynon Abrahams, nGap lecturer

Beynon Abrahams, nGap lecturer
at the Faculty of Heath Sciences
Department of Basic medicine

Motivated scholar turned academic
Neo Mathinya, who hails from Taung in the North West, has made the UFS her home. She received both her undergraduate and honours degrees from the university. Apart from joining the department as a lecturer under the nGAP initiative, she is currently studying for her MSc in Soil Physics. She will continue with this research when she comes to her PhD. Mathinya’s research focuses on soil salinity - the process of increasing salt content - which affects the ability of plants to take up water, a process, known as osmotic stress. She will investigate the effects of irrigation water salinity on the grain yield and quality of malt barley.

Researcher with a passion for crime prevention
Kelebogile Boleu joined the Department of Criminology in the Faculty of Humanities, with a fresh take on diversion and crime prevention. Boleu holds a BA Criminology (Hons) and is now pursuing her Master’s degree. She worked for NICRO a non-profit organisation specialising in social crime prevention and offender reintegration, with programmes that prevent young and first-time offenders from re-offending, thus reducing crime. Boleu said that her practical experience makes her lectures to third-year criminology students exciting. Boleu’s research focuses on analysing the value of pre-sentencing reports in assisting adjudicators to make well-balanced judgments in cases.   

Research with a winning plan for fight against breast cancer
Beynon Abrahams joined the Department of Basic Medical Sciences in the Faculty of Health Sciences. Abrahams holds a BSc, BSc (Hons), and MSc in Medical Biosciences from the University of the Western Cape. Abrahams’ Master’s research focused on breast cancer, research on which he is building in his PhD. This doctoral research involves the exploration of P-glycoprotein, a protein expressed on cancer cell and responsible for multi-drug resistance in cancer treatment. The aim of this research is to develop a therapeutic drug treatment strategy that will improve breast cancer patient survival outcomes. Abrahams’s greater vision is to look at conventional cancer therapeutic regimens, to find ways in which they can be improved.

The nGAP initiative offers these young lecturers an opportunity for growth and development as academics, while providing them with opportunities they would have not have been exposed to otherwise.

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