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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

Great turnout for Hannes Meyer Symposium in Cardiothoracic Surgery
2017-05-05

Description: Hannes Meyer Symposium  Tags: Hannes Meyer Symposium

Symposium attendees watch attentively as
Dr Johan Brink demonstrated a MAZE procedure
with a pig’s heart.
Photo: Supplied

The University of the Free State’s Faculty of Health Sciences hosted the annual Hannes Meyer Symposium in Cardiothoracic Surgery. The symposium was organised by Prof Francis Smit, head of the department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at the UFS, with the support from the Society of Cardiothoracic Surgeons of South Africa and the European Association of Cardiothoracic Surgery (EACTS). Over the past 16 years this symposium has steadily been growing in stature and prestige leading to the resounding success that was this year’s event.

Medical advancements explored
The aim of the symposium is to provide an overview of the latest advances in Cardiothoracic Surgery and perfusion as well as providing hands-on training via simulation to trainees from South Africa and the rest of the African continent. Didactic lectures and papers by registrars were an integral component of the symposium. The South African community was represented by various heads of departments, trainees, senior specialists and perfusionists from all the training centres in the country. There were also delegates representing Uganda, Mozambique, Nigeria and Zambia.

Heart surgery off to new heights
Simulation in Cardiothoracic Surgery and Perfusion can be compared to airline pilots with high risk, with complex surgeries being first done in simulators before being attempted in the real world. The UFS is proud to have a state-of-the-art simulation facility, which was used to facilitate the programme.

The range of simulation was extensive and included simple procedural models to complex full theatre setups with Human Performance Models in perfusion that simulated crisis scenarios with the aid of computerised devices that react in real time to human intervention.

Industry support highly appreciated
This event was coordinated by Dr Jehron Pillay, senior registrar in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Marilee Janse van Vuuren, deputy-director clinical technology, in the department. This was the first time that such extensive simulation models were used in the programme and judging from the positive response received, it has certainly set the benchmark for all future events.

The event has received invaluable support over the years from EACTS that has selected Bloemfontein as the site of its African training programme as a result of the high level of training and education achieved here.

The academic discussions were chaired by Profs Marko Turina and Jose Pomar (past presidents of EACTS) and Pieter Kappetein (past secretary general of EACTS) who are extremely well known internationally for their contribution to advancing Cardiothoracic training and education.

Our guests from EACTS presented didactical lectures on research methodology, international randomised trials and discussed recent developments and controversies in cardiothoracic surgery.

Registrars from all South African units presented a thoracic and cardiac surgery paper from each unit highlighting specific disease conditions, moderated by heads of departments and the international panel.

An event of this magnitude requires significant financial support and the medical industry in South Africa stepped up to the plate in providing financial and logistical support in order to make it possible.

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