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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

Researchers celebrated for outstanding achievements
2017-05-05

Description: Researchers celebrated for outstanding achievements  Tags: Researchers celebrated for outstanding achievements

From left, NRF P-rated researcher,
Dr Daniel Spence; Directorate Research
Development, Eleanor van der Westhuizen;
Vice-Chancellor and Rector Prof Francis Petersen;
Dean of Faculty of Theology Prof Fanie Snyman;
and Vice-Rector: Research, Prof Corli Witthuhn.
Photo: Johan Roux


The University of the Free State’s (UFS) Vice-Rector: Research, Prof Corli Witthuhn, hosted a Research Celebration, at which the new National Research Foundation (NRF) ratings, presentation of the UFS Book Prize and the research support award were announced. The UFS Chancellor, Dr Khotso Mokhele, and Chairperson of the UFS Council, Mr Willem Louw, were in attendance among academics and staff members. 

An astounding preface
Presenting the opening remarks, UFS Vice-Chancellor and Rector, Prof Francis Petersen, congratulated all researchers and prize recipients on behalf of the rectorate. He applauded all researchers who had put their best foot forward and were acknowledged by the NRF. Furthermore, Prof Petersen said that the success of UFS researchers informed that the university received international recognition. “Research has the ability to play an active role in transformative action that leads to change. We are striving to be a leader in research output,” said Prof Petersen.

Humble and gracious recipient
Prof Fanie Snyman, Dean of the Faculty of Theology, walked away with the most sought-after award of the day, the UFS Book Prize for Distinguished Scholarship, for his book, Malachi, on the last book of the Old Testament. The book was published in Germany and can be used by theology scholars and academics.

“I have no words, I am sincerely grateful for this award, but I must also thank the university. I am grateful for the support that has enabled me to complete the book and achieve this award,” said Prof Snyman. He is the third academic to be awarded this prize.

University reaches new heights
The university’s new NRF-ratings were celebrated. The UFS has 27 new rated researchers and seven researcher’s ratings were renewed. Prof Jonathan Jansen received a NRF A-rating and Dr Daniel Spence a P-rating.

The Directorate of Research Development’s Eleanor van der Westhuizen was awarded the Research Support Award, which is to acknowledge those who accelerate and propel research and/or researchers.

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