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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 closes campuses until Friday 28 October 2016 to readjust academic programme
2016-10-15

UFS announces strategy for completion of the 2016 academic year

Agreement between UFS management and student leadership in relation to residences

After almost four weeks of student protests about fees at the University of the Free State (UFS) and the subsequent suspension of the academic programme and closing of campuses, the senior leadership announced on 14 October 2016 a strategy to ensure that students will be able to complete the 2016 academic year.

The university on 13 October 2016 announced that it will shut down its Bloemfontein and South Campuses until 28 October 2016 for crucial and complex arrangements to be put in place to readjust the academic calendar and ensure that all students can complete their studies. The senior leadership did, however, make it clear that the university will not be shutting down for the remainder of 2016.

No teaching and learning activities at undergraduate and honours level will be offered between 17 October and 28 October 2016. The university will re-start teaching and learning at undergraduate and honours level in the first week of November 2016.

However, teaching and learning will not take place in the classrooms during November 2016, but through a different mode of delivery that consists of a combination of printed and recorded lectures, study materials and learning aids that will be provided by the university and delivered through Blackboard. In this manner no attempts at disrupting the rest of the academic year will affect our students’ academic programme. Students, however, will sit for the exam on campus.

Students in residence accommodation can return to campus as from 29 October 2016 and it is recommended that students who do not have off-campus internet access return to campus in order to access study material to complete the academic year.A new timetable for exams is still being developed and will be communicated as soon as the arrangements have been finalised.

Faculties have been differently affected by the loss of teaching time. Some faculties like the Faculty of Law have completed their curriculum, while other faculties like the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences require more teaching time. Some faculties, like the Faculty of Health Sciences, cannot do teaching through alternative modes of delivery.

The needs of the different faculties have been taken into account for developing a rescue plan to complete the 2016 academic year.

  • The Faculty of Health Sciences will continue its classes and clinical rotations as normal for all three schools on the Bloemfontein Campus and in the relevant hospitals. All students registered in programmes in the Faculty of Health Sciences will stay in residences for the full period of their studies and exams. Final-year medical students will graduate in December 2016 as expected.
  • In the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, final-year students for the Certificate in the Theory of Accounting (CTA) will stay on campus during October through to December 2016 and their classes and tests will not change.
  • Arrangements for all other faculties and programmes are being prepared and within the next week, students and parents/guardians will receive communication about how curriculum content will be completed and when the final exams will take place.
  • The university is extending the academic year so that we can recuperate all the lost teaching and learning time. The qualifications conferred on the 2016 class will be of the same quality and standards as all UFS qualifications.

The UFS is and will remain a fundamentally contact teaching and learning education university. However, under the current circumstances faced not only by the UFS, but higher-education institutions across the country, the best way of ensuring the integrity of the academic programmes in most faculties is by using an alternative way of teaching and learning. Other South African universities have chosen the same approach to be able to complete the academic year.

Instead of students going to class, they will have content delivered to them where they are (library, computer labs, their own computers, etc.) through Blackboard and printed and electronic material. This is a different way of learning but students will be carefully guided and supported.

Faculties are currently preparing all the necessary materials and instructions to support student learning.Standards and quality will be the same as if students were attending classes. Some faculties require practical laboratory work as part of their curriculum. The exam timetable will be adapted for these students to be able to complete their practical work when the academic activities commences in November 2016. The relevant faculties will communicate the schedule of practical work directly to the students.

Students in their final year will complete their studies during 2016. It is possible that in some cases the graduation ceremony for these students will be in June 2017 instead of April 2017. This will not prejudice students with bursaries, or committed employment in law firms or other businesses. The university will provide the necessary academic transcripts as proof of the completion of the relevant qualifications. None of these changes will affect postgraduate students.

The university will maintain regular communication with students and parents/guardians to update them on the new exams timetable.Faculties will communicate directly with students about issues related to their programmes.

“One of the areas in which significant progress was made, is that we were able to agree on a basis for stability with student leaders. The student protests occurred during an important time in the university’s academic calendar and the readjustment of our academic programme has put tremendous pressure on academic and support services staff, and created anxieties for parents,” said Prof Nicky Morgan, Acting Rector of the UFS.

“The senior leadership restates its commitment to free education as well as its willingness to stand together with students and other public universities to impress on government the urgency to decide on a time frame for the roll-out of free higher education for the poor and missing middle. We will use the next two weeks to meet with the leadership of Universities South Africa to coordinate collective action in this regard. We will furthermore also roll out a series of activities to inform and educate students and the general public on different models and experiences of providing free higher education,” he said.

The strategy to readjust the 2016 academic year is applicable to students on the Bloemfontein and South Campuses.


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

 

State of our campuses #15: UFS closes campuses until Friday 28 October 2016 to readjust academic programme

State of our campuses #14: All academic activities on UFS campuses remain suspended on 13 and 14 October 2016

State of our campuses #13: Availability of information about plans for remainder of UFS 2016 calendar year

State of our campuses #12: All academic activities at UFS campuses suspended for 11 and 12 October 2016

State of our campuses #11: Academic activities on UFS campuses continue

State of our campuses #10: Impact of non-completion of the 2016 academic year on UFS students 

State of our campuses #9: Academic programme on all UFS campuses to resume on Monday 10 October 2016

State of our campuses #8:  UFS extends vacation as from 28 September until 7 October 2016, 28 September 2016

State of our campuses #7: All three UFS campuses will be closed today, 27 September 2016.

State of our campuses #6: All UFS campuses reopen on Tuesday 27 September 2016

State of our campuses #5: UFS campuses to remain closed on Monday 26 September 2016

State of our campuses #4: Decisions about the UFS academic calendar

State of our campuses #3: UFS campuses closed until Friday 23 September 2016 

State of our campuses #2: UFS Bloemfontein and South Campuses closed on Tuesday 20 September 2016 (19 September 2016)

State of our campuses #1: Academic activities suspended on UFS Bloemfontein Campus (19 September 2016)

 

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