Each year, representatives from partner universities around the world gathers on campus for the Stellenbosch International Academic Networks (SIAN) meeting, focussing their attention on internationalisation at Stellenbosch University (SU). This year, at the 15th SIAN meeting, partners from 15 countries, representing 23 institutions came together to discuss strategic approaches for the internationalisation of higher education. The meeting was hosted from 28 March to 2 April.
It was the first gathering of partner institutions after the Postgraduate & International Office reorganised into Stellenbosch University International (SU International) and the Postgraduate Office in October 2016. With the theme "Rooted in Africa, global in reach," staff from four SU campuses engaged in topics ranging from student mobility programmes to broader strategies on internationalisation and scholarship programmes.
Prof Hester Klopper, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Strategic Initiatives and Internationalisation welcomed visitors outlining SU's strategic plan for internationalisation. "In an increasingly global era, the aim of many universities is to ensure that every unit of education, research and other services engage in processes of internationalisation. Internationalisation at SU is about our key functions; teaching, learning and research," Prof Klopper informed delegates. She told them SU's international research collaboration has been strengthened by networks like SIAN. "It gives us an opportunity to benchmark, to learn from one another and mobilise our intellectual resources."
Delivering a keynote address, Prof Piet Naudé, Director of the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB), discussed new ways of collaboration and said higher education should build global mindsets. Prof Naudé mentioned "a shift from West to East" and said institutions should look at diversification and a greater geopolitical spread. Nico Elema, Manager of the SU International Centre for Collaboration in Africa, highlighted collaborations with institutions on the continent and said the university wants to establish substantive partnerships in various research and academic fields. He informed visitors of plans to launch a student exchange programme with partner institutions on the continent.
For the some delegates the weeklong event provided an opportunity to connect with other institutions and form new networks. Prof Agnes Gathumbi from the School of Education at Kenyatta University in Kenya said she established new contacts and said it was worth attending the meeting. "Through these collaborations our students at SU, mostly PhD students, are equipped with the necessary skills.
SIAN activities for the week included a Study Abroad Fair in the Neelsie Student Centre. Here representatives from partner institutions gave information about opportunities at their institutions. The ever-popular International Food Evening also formed part of the weeklong celebrations.