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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

Three UFS researchers attend cactus pear congress
2017-05-05

Description: Dr de Wit Cactus pear 2 Tags: Dr de Wit Cactus pear 2

Dr Maryna de Wit, one of the
UFS delegation team was appointed
coordinator for Agro-Processing
and Post-Harvest Technology during
the congress

Description: Dr du Toit Cactus Pear 2 Tags: Dr du Toit Cactus Pear 2

Dr Alba du Toit, also one of the members
of the UFS delegation during the
congress at the University of Chile
in Santiago, Chile.
Photos: Supplied





Dr Alba du Toit, a junior lecturer in Consumer Science at the University of the Free State (UFS), presented her research at the recent IX International Congress on Cactus Pear and Cochineal at the University of Chile in Santiago, Chile. The congress was themed, “CAM Crops for a Hotter and Drier World”.

Dr Du Toit, Prof HO de Waal and Dr Maryna de Wit, from the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences at UFS, attended the five-day conference held between 26 and 30 March 2017.

Congress a platform for networking
The congress, held every three years since 1993, gathers cactus pear researchers, growers and processing managers from Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa to review current research trends by networking to form new collaborations that could lead to increased efficiency and shared knowledge. They also present new findings and plan for future research.

Great achievements for researchers
Dr Du Toit said: “My research on cactus pears focused on the utilisation of the slimy substance found in the cactus cladodes as a functional ingredient in innovative nutraceutical food products”. Functional foods are foods that promote health or prevent disease through adding or omitting specific ingredients. She also received the International Society of Horticultural Science award for best student oral presentation.

Dr De Wit also presented her research and was appointed coordinator for Agro-Processing and Post-Harvest Technology at the congress.

Dr Herman Fouché, Affiliated Researcher at the Department of Soil-, Crop- and Climate Sciences at UFS, developed “kuilmoes”, a type of silage from pulped cactus pear fruit, mixed with lucerne, in collaboration with Prof de Waal, which was also presented.at the congress.

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