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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

UFS Professor on his new book on Boko Haram
2017-02-01

Description: Prof Hussein Solomon, Senior Professor  Tags: Prof Hussein Solomon, Senior Professor

Prof Hussein Solomon, Senior Professor
in the Department of Political Studies and
Governance at the UFS and co-editor of the
book titled Understanding Boko Haram:
Terrorism and Insurgency in Africa
.
Photo: Charl Devenish

Understanding the nature of the Boko Haram insurgency in northeast Nigeria is exactly what Prof Hussein Solomon from the Department of Political Studies and Governance at the University of the Free State (UFS) has set out to do.

Understanding the emergence of Boko Haram
Prof Solomon says tens of thousands of people have been killed in northeast Nigeria and neighbouring states as a result of the violence unleashed by the terrorist group. With the help of his co-editor, Prof Jim Hentz, who is an army colonel and lecturer at the Virginia Military Institute in the US, they set out to “understand the emergence of Boko Haram in a historical, sociological, economic and political context”.

In his book, titled Understanding Boko Haram: Terrorism and Insurgency in Africa, Prof Solomon “seeks to understand the emergence of Boko Haram in a historical, sociological, economic and political context”.

Book launch to take place in Chicago in the US
In his previous book, Islamic State and the Coming Global Confrontation, he analyses the origins and organisational structure of the Islamic State. Although an entirely new topic, but within the broad theme of political Islam, this book focuses more on how Boko Haram has become part of the Islamic State’s franchise in West Africa.

The book, which took more than a year to write, is based on secondary research, followed by primary documents and interviews done on the ground in Nigeria. It will be of much interest to students of terrorism and political violence, insurgencies, African politics, war and conflict studies, and international relations in general.

The official launch will take place at the African Studies Association’s annual meeting and takes place from 16-18 November 2017, in Chicago in the US.

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