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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

A hat trick for Kovsie Master’s student
2016-07-28

Description: Candice Thikeson  Tags: Candice Thikeson

Candice Thikeson from the University of the Free State
was the successful recipient of the Abe Bailey
Travel Bursary.
Photo: Johan Roux

Mandela Rhodes Scholar, Bright Young Mind, and now successful candidate of the Abe Bailey Travel Bursary. These accolades now all belong to Candice Thikeson from the University of the Free State (UFS).

To complete the hat trick, she was declared the recipient of the bursary on 20 July 2016. She follows in the footsteps of Stefan van der Westhuizen, who was the UFS Abe Bailey recipient in 2015.

An unexpected breakfast announcement

Thikeson, Gosego Moroka, and Wonga Mfana were the UFS final candidates for the bursary.

Thikeson, who is currently a Master’s student in Art History and Image Studies, said she never expected to be the successful candidate, but is really grateful. “I would like to thank the Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Prof Jonathan Jansen, the Dean of the Faculty of the Humanities, Prof Lucius Botes, and members of the Rectorate, and academic staff who gave me the news in such a special way.”

Promoting South African unity abroad

The objective of the bursary is to broaden the views of young South Africans to effect greater understanding and co-operation among those from various language and cultural backgrounds. Furthermore, it wants to empower those who show exceptional leadership qualities and a strong service ethic, while adopting commitment and effective participation in a common future.

Most importantly, the bursary seeks to promote South African unity. It is awarded each year and consists of a three-week educational tour of England and Scotland. The host in the United Kingdom will be Goodenough College in London.

Thikeson will be overseas from 22 November to 17 December 2016, visiting London, Cambridge, Oxford in the United Kingdom, and Edinburgh in Scotland.

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