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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

State of our campuses: UFS campuses closed until Friday 23 September 2016
2016-09-20

After careful assessment of the situation on the Bloemfontein, Qwaqwa, and South Campuses of the University of the Free State (UFS), and engagement with the Student Representative Council (SRC), the senior leadership decided this morning to close all its campuses until Friday 23 September 2016.

All academic and administrative services on the three campuses have therefore been suspended and will resume again on Monday 26 September 2016. This means that no academic and administrative services will be available and no lectures and/or tests will take place on the three campuses for the rest of the week.

This decision was made after all academic activities were suspended on the Bloemfontein Campus yesterday afternoon because of a growing unease and disruption of some academic activities by groups of students, resulting from yesterday morning’s announcement on tuition fees by the Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Blade Nzimande. Although the university management is in favour of peaceful protests, it condemns these disruptions, especially as it took place during an important time in the academic calendar.

The decision to suspend academic and administrative services for the rest of this week was taken with caution, as it will ensure the safety of staff, students, and university property. It will also assist the university management in maintaining stability on the campuses.

Adjustments will be made to the teaching calendar, and students are requested to obtain this information from their respective faculties. No student will be disadvantaged in terms of tests or assignments as a result of the unfortunate closure of the university for the rest of the week.

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