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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

RAG resilience shines despite rain
2017-02-07

Description: Rag 2017 Tags: Rag 2017

Winning float for 2017: Armentum, Vergeet-My-Nie,
and Emily
Photo: Lelanie de Wet 

Although the 75th RAG festivities were challenged by ominous weather, in true Kovsie spirit students and organisers still made a gleaming success of the day. 

Students help to create sunny feeling
On 6 February 2017, the annual float-building activities culminated in the handing over of schoolbags to 150 learners from schools in and around Bloemfontein. This took place at the Rag Farm on the Bloemfontein Campus of the University of the Free (UFS), since the morning procession to Twin City Mall in Heidedal had to be cancelled due to bad weather.

“It is of course a huge disappointment to all of us that the events had to be cancelled, but we are grateful for the rain,” said Karen Scheepers, Head of Kovsie Rag Community Service and Assistant Director: Student Affairs.

The evening KFC Rag procession took place as planned, with students having the option of taking part despite the weather. Unfortunately, the Chevrolet Music Festival had to be cancelled.

“The very important actors of today are our students who have worked long hours to build the floats and who have worked together to make this rainy day on the outside feel sunny inside,” said Prof Francis Petersen, incoming UFS Vice-Chancellor and Rector, when he addressed the crowd at the Rag Farm. Prof Petersen will take up office on 1 April 2017.

Armentum, Vergeet-My-Nie, and Emily take honours
Armentum, Vergeet-My-Nie, and Emily Hobhouse were the overall winners of the 2017 Rag float-building. “It was worth the hard work. Always remember to ask for advice during float-building,” said Pieter Kotze, RC Rag of Armentum residence on the Bloemfontein Campus. “I also want to thank both the RC Rag from Vergeet-My-Nie and Emily Hobhouse.”

The float theme was Proudly South African, and the winning float encapsulated it with local flavours such as Chappies, a Rooibos tea box and a Lion matchsticks box. They also went the extra mile by incorporating each hostel’s logo within a Chappie design.

The Central Rag Committee would like to thank all their sponsors who made the events possible. The Rag Coronation Ball will take place on 17 February 2017, where the new Rag Queen and Mr Rag will be crowned.

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