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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

New Dean of Student Affairs appointed
2016-08-23

Description: Pura Mgolombane Tags: Pura Mgolombane

Pura Mgolombane, newly-appointed
Dean of Student Affairs at the
University of the Free State.
Photo: Charl Devenish

“Students must always remember that people are human beings before any other identity they may embody.”

This is the message to the students of the UFS campuses from Pura Mgolombane, newly-appointed Dean of Student Affairs at the University of the Free State (UFS) in August 2016. He has replaced Cornelia Faasen, who acted as Dean from December 2014 to July 2016.   

Being part of the Kovsie community
Previously, he was part of the Kovsie family as Assistant Dean of Student Life and Leadership (2011-2013). Before that, he was the Diversity, Ethics, and Social Justice Manager at the University of the Witwatersrand from August 2013 to July 2016. Mgolombane said he is most excited to “observe and experience an inclusive culture” at the university.

“I am looking forward to being part of a team that creates sufficient conditions for every member of the Kovsie community to feel that they belong here; from Qwaqwa campus, to South campus, to Bloemfontein campus.”

Making sure humanity comes first
His primary focus will be “to create Humanising Student Lived Experiences”. I want to create conditions where students feel that their humanity matters, because it is in such conditions that students are likely to excel academically,” he said.

These conditions will be created through the introduction of programmes and activities known as pedagogies, namely the humanising pedagogy and the pedagogy of discomfort. “All of these pedagogies and frameworks will be contained and further clarified in the Dean of Student Affairs Strategy which will be finalised no later than December 2016.”

Overcoming challenges faced by students
Regarding the challenges facing UFS students, Mgolombane said that “it is only when all out humanity is affirmed that we are likely to find lasting peace.

“Those who are in power or privileged positions have a responsibility to be in solidarity with the marginalised groups in pursuit of Social Justice.”

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