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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 extends vacation as from 28 September until 7 October 2016
2016-09-28

In solidarity with the call for free education for the poor and missing middle, a discussion was held with the University Management Committee this morning, in consultation with the student leadership, and after careful assessment of operational matters on all three campuses of the University of the Free State (UFS), we agreed upon the following:
 
1.    All classes, tests, and assignments will be suspended until Friday 7 October 2016. This means that the university will close on Wednesday 28 September 2016 for an extended vacation until 7 October 2016. The academic programme will resume on Monday 10 October 2016.
                     
2.    This will allow the entire university time to demonstrate solidarity, in collaboration with student leadership, academic and support staff, and the broader community in support of free higher education for the poor and missing middle.
                  
3.    The administration of the university will continue on Thursday 29
September 2016, and staff will have access to their offices to plan the additional academic support for students, to consider the re-scheduling of the academic calendar, to engage with the Department of Higher Education and Training in relation to the students’ demands, and to continue with support services during the extended vacation.
 
4.    The university management and student leadership will also, over the next three days, engage in discussions to provide for a platform that is conducive to continued collaboration between students and the university leadership.
 
5.    The suspension of tests, classes, and assignments will also allow time for a social compact and code of ethics for protests to be agreed upon and signed between student leadership and the university management.

 In respect of the Qwaqwa Campus, some protesting students yesterday intimidated others and forcibly removed staff, as well as security personnel. Today, university property was burnt. In view of our commitment to the safety of staff, students, and university property at the campus, it was necessary to evacuate the campus – including residences – with immediate effect. However, residential students are allowed to remain on campus until midday tomorrow (28 September 2016).

The university leadership again wants to emphasise its support for a national policy of free education for the poor and missing middle and stresses its support for peaceful protests on matters that are of concern to our students.
 
We further understand the frustration of many students and their parents/guardians at the closure of the campuses and the impact it has on academic staff, staff in the Support Services, our security personnel, teaching, learning, projects, assignments, lectures, tests, fieldwork, and the academic calendar in general, and commit to do all in our power to ensure the delivery of quality education to all our students under difficult circumstances.


Released by:
Lacea Loader (Director: Communication and Brand Management)
Telephone: +27 51 401 2584 | +27 83 645 2454
Email: news@ufs.ac.za | loaderl@ufs.ac.za
Fax: +27 51 444 6393

 

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