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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

Five mega projects to help reposition the UFS
2008-02-01

The University of the Free State (UFS) today announced that it will focus on five mega-projects to help reposition the UFS in the next five years as one of South Africa’s leading universities that is successfully managing excellence and diversity.

Speaking at the official opening of the university today, the Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Frederick Fourie, identified the five mega projects as:

  • The successful implementation of strategic academic clusters to focus the teaching and research expertise of the UFS.
  • The development and implementation of new models of teaching and learning.
  • Finding new sources of income (including third-stream income) to minimise dependence on government subsidies and tuition fees.
  • Creating a new institutional culture for the university by finalising the Institutional Charter.
  • The ongoing transformation of the UFS in all its dimensions.

According to Prof. Fourie, the strategic clusters – initiated in 2006 – are a very important initiative which is aimed at making the UFS a world leader in six broad areas. The focus of the six clusters has now been determined. These clusters are not just research based, but will include postgraduate programmes and filter down to undergraduate learning programmes and curricula.

He also indicated that other research at the UFS will continue to be supported and funded as before.

The second project, to establish a new teaching and learning model, is meant to address current success rates which indicate the need for this issue to receive a high priority.

New income streams to enable higher levels of financial sustainability is the third project, especially in view of dwindling government subsidies and limits on student numbers. This is necessary to fund sustained higher levels of investment in the quality of academic activities and in the necessary capacity and facilities.

Prof. Fourie said the fourth project regarding institutional culture is an ongoing effort to create a sense of belonging for all staff and students at the UFS through the adoption of an Institutional Charter for the university.

“What the draft Charter does – in addition to describing overarching values espoused by the institution and its people – is to describe the outlines and constitutive principles of the ‘post-redress’ UFS,” said Prof. Fourie.

The Charter – initially launched in 2007 – is and remains a critical element of guiding transformation effectively and speedily towards a widely-accepted goal. It is a critical element of the “social sustainability and robustness” of a new UFS, especially in tumultuous political times.

The fifth project is the Transformation Plan, launched in 2007. “We simply must pursue this plan diligently, given our commitment to comprehensive and deep transformation, and to best practice transformation. All universities will have to face up to the challenge of transformation and the UFS can break new ground, as it did in the past by managing transformation innovatively and creating a campus where all can find their rightful place,” said Prof. Fourie.

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za  
1 February 2008
 

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