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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

Third NRF A-rated researcher for UFS
2017-02-03

Description: Prof Jansen, NRF A-rated researcher  Tags: Prof Jansen, NRF A-rated researcher

Prof Jonathan Jansen, senior researcher at the UFS
Faculty of Education, recently joined two other
UFS researchers as NRF A-rated researchers.
They from the left are: Profs Melanie Walker, Maxim Finkelstein
and Jansen.
Photo: Charl Devenish

The University of the Free State received its third A-rating from the National Research Foundation (NRF) when Prof Jonathan Jansen was awarded an A2-rating.

Prof Jansen is a Senior Research Professor in Education secondary research field and field of specialisation: Development education and Curriculum theory at the UFS Faculty of Education and Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies at Stanford University in the US.

Prof Jansen’s rating follows P-rating
Prof Jansen’s rating also adds to the recent P-rating awarded to Dr Daniel Spence, a postdoctoral Research Fellow at the International Studies Group. In receiving the rating, the UFS became the only university in South Africa with a P-rated researcher in History.

P-ratings are given to young researchers, usually under the age of 35, who have the potential to become leaders in their field. Researchers in this group are recognised by all, or the overwhelming majority of, reviewers, as having demonstrated the potential to become future international leaders. 

“Obtaining another A-rating is indicative of the university’s drive to enhance its research profile – nationally as well as internationally. I am thankful to our scholars for their commitment to the rating process and look forward to receive the results of this year’s ratings,” said Prof Corli Witthuhn, Vice-Rector: Research at the UFS.   

Total number of researchers increased
The UFS has also upped the ante with regards to its total number of NRF-rated researchers during the latest rating and evaluation with an increase from 127 in 2015 to 149 rated researchers in 2016.

In 2015, Prof Maxim Finkelstein from the Department of Mathematical Statistics and Actuarial Science, and Prof Melanie Walker, Senior Research Professor and Director of the Centre for Research on Higher Education and Development, were given A-ratings.

Prof Finkelstein’s rating then made him the only A-rated researcher in ‘Probability and Statistics’ regarding Mathematical Sciences in the country. Prof Walker was evaluated and graded in the division for Research, Innovation Support and Advancement.

According to the NRF, A-rated researchers are “unequivocally recognised by their peers as leading international scholars in their field for the high quality and impact of their recent research outputs”.

 

The rating of individuals is based primarily on the quality and impact of their research over the past eight years.

 

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