Staff, students, international partners and stakeholders from around the world came together on Friday, 13 April, to celebrate a quarter century of international relations at Stellenbosch University (SU). About 400 people gathered in the Endler Hall on Stellenbosch Campus for a gala celebration to mark 25 years of formalised international activities at the University. The event topped off a week of activities hosted by SU International for its annual Stellenbosch International Academic Network (SIAN) and SU Programme for International Administrators (SUPIA) meetings from 10 to 14 April.
Friday night's event kicked off with a celebratory reception, followed by reflections on 25 years of international relations at SU and a performance by local band Hotwater. The event also saw SU International recognising 25 individuals for their contributions towards SU International, the Tygerberg International Office and the University of Stellenbosch Business School International Relations Office.
Prof Wim de Villiers, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, applauded the contributions of staff, students, and partner institutions for their support of internationalisation at SU. He told the guests that the University's centenary and 25-year international commemorations are closely linked. “We have become what we are as a university today in great deal thanks to internationalisation. We rely on internationalisation to help sustain us into the future as we enter the second century of our existence."
Prof Hester Klopper, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Strategy and Internationalisation, extended her congratulations to SU International, telling guests that the University will remain rooted in Africa and global in reach. “Stellenbosch University will keep a physical presence in selected regions, leading some of the networks that continue to support the pioneering of science and development across the continent."
Mr Robert Kotzé, Senior Director of SU International, who started the office, said that he looked forward to the next 25 years. He listed historical milestones, the contributions of the University leadership over the years, the growth in student mobility and the ever-expanding partnership landscape as having a positive impact on the institution and on the lives of the staff and students.
International activities at SU can be traced back to 1993, when the Office for International Relations was established. That year marked the start of coordinated efforts to grow and cultivate international relations and to advance international academic networks and mobility in a systematic way. International activities commenced with formal institutional agreements with the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen (Germany), Leiden University (the Netherlands) and the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium).
Representatives from these three partner institutions – and 28 other universities representing 20 countries – joined the celebrations, also taking part in the SIAN and SUPIA meetings held on Campus during the week. These meetings saw staff from SU International, partners and stakeholders engaging on topics of internationalisation. The partner universities also took part in a Study Abroad Fair, providing SU students and staff with information about opportunities at their institutions. And then there were opportunities to explore local culture at the International Food Evening and at local wine farms.
Delegates commended SU for its efforts towards internationalisation. Dr Romanus Shivoro, External Relations Coordinator at the University of Namibia, said that it was good to meet with partners from universities in Africa and beyond. “Internationalisation is here to stay. A university that is not embracing the concept of internationalisation will lag behind in the development of higher education."
See pictures from the gala celebration here.
Pictures: Anton Jordaan