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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

Accreditation status of the UFS School of Medicine
2016-06-14

This communication is a factual correction of the misinformation and accompanying hysteria that appeared in a local newspaper this past week on the accreditation status of programmes in the Faculty of Health Sciences’ School of Medicine. Here are the facts:
 
1. The flagship programme of the School of Medicine, the MB ChB, was fully accredited by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) through the year 2020. This is the maximum accreditation status that any programme can achieve, and the UFS leadership is extremely pleased with this outcome, as it expresses confidence in the work done by our academics in the School of Medicine. Not only was the basic medical training for new doctors fully accredited, the HPSCA approved an increase in the number of trainee doctors from 140 to 160, and also approved additional training sites in Trompsburg and Kimberley.
 
2. The honours programmes of the School of Medicine received full accreditation as well.
 
3. All the master’s degree programmes in the School of Medicine also received accreditation. The UFS is especially pleased with the significant improvements in the Department of Cardiology, which now has a full complement of staff under the leadership of the highly regarded cardiologist, Prof Makoali Makotoko.
 
4. Four master’s programmes received provisional accreditation, which means that (a) these programmes continue to be taught and (b) outstanding issues, such as inadequate staffing, must be fixed. It does not mean that these programmes will be or are likely to be discontinued.
 
5. It is a fact that staff retire or resign in all schools and departments of any university. It is also true that these departures offer opportunities to bring new academic and professional staff into the UFS. In fact, for the first time virtually every department in the School of Medicine now has a full-time Head of Department and 46 new staff were appointed since January 2015.
 
6. The main employer of academic staff in the School of Medicine is the provincial Department of Health (DoH), and the UFS works very closely and persistently with the Free State DoH to ensure that vacant posts are filled.
 
7. The attacks on the integrity of the outgoing Head of the School of Medicine were malicious. Prof Alan St Clair Gibson did not resign ‘overnight’; his departure has nothing to do with the accreditation status of the School – in fact, he can be proud of this achievement; and he effectively takes up a promotion post in New Zealand as academic Dean at the University of Waikato. Prof St Clair Gibson will be remembered for his leadership in transformation, especially regarding staff and student equity in the School of Medicine, and for securing our programme accreditation. For this, the university is deeply grateful.

Released by:
Lacea Loader (Director: Communication and Brand Management)
Telephone: +27(0)51 401 2584 | +27(0)83 645 2454
Email: news@ufs.ac.za | loaderl@ufs.ac.za
Fax: +27(0)51 444 6393

 

 



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