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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

Prof Steyn to receive Jan H Marais Prize in Stellenbosch
2017-05-09

Description: Prof Jaap Steyn  Tags: Prof Jaap Steyn

Prof Jaap Steyn, who started his career as
journalist at Volksblad, later entered the academy,
and was a professor at the University of the
Free State for many years.
Photo: Marthie Kemp

Although Prof Jaap Steyn will be honoured officially for his contribution to Afrikaans as an academic language at the end of this month, he only became aware of his nomination after he had won the award.

According to this research fellow in the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, German and French at the University of the Free State (UFS), he is grateful for the recognition. He has recently been awarded the Jan H Marais Prize for his outstanding contribution to Afrikaans.

Former Kovsie honoured together with Prof Jan van der Watt
According to a statement by the South African Academy for Science and Arts, the award was jointly made to Prof Steyn, who is probably the best-known South African language historian, and Prof Jan van der Watt van Nijmegen from the Netherlands. The prize money of R500 000, which they will share, will be presented in Stellenbosch on 30 May 2017.

Prof Steyn is a former Kovsie, who was a research professor at the UFS from 1985 to 1997, and at the age of 78 is still a research fellow. “After the announcement of the prize, I learnt that I was nominated by two of my colleagues,” he says.

His most difficult work was probably also his best

Over the past 50 years several of his publications, biographies, and books have seen the light. He believes that nothing one does is perfect. His most difficult work was the biography of NP van Wyk Louw. “It was probably also my best work,” he says. “The book I enjoyed working on most, was the biography of the author MER, or ME Rothmann.”

Prof Steyn has also received awards such as the Stals Prize, the Louis Hiemstra Prize, the NP van Wyk Louw medal, and honorary membership from the South African Academy for Science and Arts.

He says the staff in the Department of Afrikaans and Dutch, German and French are very friendly and helpful to still render him assistance as a research fellow.


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