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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

Meet our Councillor Ryland Fisher - media expert, political commentator, art lover
2016-07-13

Description: Ryland Fisher   Tags: Ryland Fisher

Ryland Fisher
Photo: Johan Roux

With more than 30 years’ experience in the media industry as former editor of the Cape Times and New Age, as well as assistant editor of the Sunday Times, and thanks to a profound understanding of the political situation in South Africa, Ryland Fisher was an obvious choice to serve on the Council of the University of the Free State.

Racial issues and diversity

He was born and bred in Cape Town, and studied Journalism at Rhodes University before the political situation in South Africa interrupted his studies. Despite this, Ryland has made a deep impression on the academy. Among others, he presented lectures on racial issues and diversity at the University of Cape Town, the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism in Johannesburg, Emory University in Atlanta, and Ohio University.  

Author and editor

Ryland has published two books, Race in 2007 and Making the Media Work for You in 2002, and was editor of the Official Opus on Nelson Mandela.

He was elected to the UFS Council in 2015. Ryland believes that his particular background and understanding of the media industry, as well as race and diversity issues, will make a valuable contribution to the Council.

Politics, media, and entrepreneurship

"I have proven experience in politics, the media, and entrepreneurship. I often lecture on media and social transformation. I believe this offers me a unique view that could benefit Council," he says.

Ryland has a particular enthusiasm for the arts, and is executive chairman of the Cape Town Festival. He has been married for over 30 years, and his three daughters lie close to his heart.

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