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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

Beauty personified through written word
2016-07-29

Description: Zubeida Jaffer Tags: Zubeida Jaffer

Dr Thozama April, University of Fort Hare
historian, Zubeida Jaffer, current Writer-in-Residence
in the Department of Communication Sciences
at the UFS and author of Beauty of the Heart:
The life and times of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke
and Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector
of the UFS at the book launch of Zubeida Jaffer.
Photo: Rulanzen Martin

“It is quite easy to write a book in a professional capacity but very difficult to write a book from the heart.”

These were the words of Prof Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of the Free State (UFS), at the launch of Beauty of the Heart: The life and times of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke by Zubeida Jaffer, the current Writer-in-Residence in the Department of Communication Sciences at the UFS.

Perseverance and dedication yields results

Writing a book from the heart is exactly what Jaffer, an award-winning South African journalist and author, set out to do. “When you make the choice to write a story, you need to be very dedicated,” she said.

As this is Jaffer’s third book, one would think that she would have no difficulty in putting pen to paper. On the contrary, she mentioned that it was, in fact, the hardest book she has written because the narrative was not easy to get hold of.

“I wanted Charlotte’s voice to come through, and it took my team and I three years of research and writing,” she said.

Maxeke’s story helps to shape South African society

The three-person panel, hosted by the UFS Sasol Library and SUN MeDIA, and chaired by Prof Jansen, included Jaffer and Dr Thozama April, University of Fort Hare historian who had done her PHD thesis on Maxeke.

Dr April said that Maxeke’s life story is an inspiring one, as it encourages a rethinking of established narratives. “These established narratives have made it possible for historians and researchers to write about the shaping of South African society,” she said.

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