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AC21 Legacy Symposium paving the way for future learning collaborations on sustainable development goalshttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=10529AC21 Legacy Symposium paving the way for future learning collaborations on sustainable development goalsPetro Mostert<p>​​​AC21 Legacy Symposium paving the way for future learning collaborations on sustainable development goals.​<br></p><p></p><p>At its inception, the Academic Consortium21 (<a href="http://www.ac21.org/">AC21</a>) was established with the objective of unifying universities and facilitating meaningful dialogue about their impact on society. This year, the AC21 will conclude at the end of March. However, its legacy will continue, especially after the valuable seeds planted at the recent Legacy AC21 Symposium jointly hosted by Stellenbosch University and the Universities of Strasbourg in France and Freiburg in Germany from 10-12 March 2024. </p><p>Exploring international education and research collaborations on the United Nation's Sustainability Development Goals (SDG) 3 Good Health and Well-Being, 7 Affordable and Clean Energy, and 9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure, delegates learned from leaders in the field in discussions on topics ranging from e-waste reusing solutions in the Congolese market, using bio-wastes of the cassava plant for production of high-performance bio-concrete, using jackfruit for biogas, to riverine hydrokinetic turbines, sustainable aquafarming, understanding energy poverty and developing ceramic water filters for people with no access to clean drinking water.</p><p>Since the United Nations adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September 2015, people around the globe have formed partnerships and collaborations to collectively tackle some of the most pressing challenges facing the world today.</p><p>In her welcome address, Prof Hester Klopper (Deputy-Vice Chancellor: Strategy, Global and Corporate Affairs) said that Stellenbosch University's membership in AC21 has provided an invaluable platform for collaboration and exchange. "Through this partnership, we have fostered meaningful engagement with universities across the Asia-Pacific region, nurturing bilateral relationships with esteemed institutions like Freiburg and Strasbourg, as well as NC State Raleigh in the USA, and Adelaide University in Australia."</p><p>"We are also delighted to witness high interest from universities within our African networks, fostering a legacy of collaboration across the continent. Institutions such as Makerere University (Uganda), Luanda University (Angola), University of Lagos (Nigeria), Universities of Cape Coast and Ghana (Ghana), Maasai Mara University (Kenia), and the University of Buea in Cameroon represent the wealth of academic excellence within Africa."</p><p>Attendees remarked on the symposium's attention-grabbing format: a 20-minute keynote address introducing each track, followed by 10-minute impactful presentations on various topics.<br></p><p>After an introduction to Strasbourg University and its impact in its region by Prof Tsamadou-Jacoberger (Vice-President for International Relations), Prof Bertrand Rose, representing the University's Industrial Engineering Department at its Faculty of Physics and Engineering, opened the symposium's first track on SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure), taking the audience back to Henry Ford's production line in explaining the journey from lean to green, and then from green to safe.</p><p>The next track was introduced by Prof Melanie Arndt (incoming DVC from the University of Freiburg, following Prof Anke Weidlich, the Chair for Control and Integration of Grids from the Department of Sustainable Systems Engineering (INATEC), opened the second track of the symposium with her take on Pathways to Net Zero Energy Systems under the banner of SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean energy).</p><p>Stellenbosch University covered the final track of the symposium with Prof Bob Mash, the Executive and Divisional Head of the Department of Family Emergency Medicine, from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Science on Tygerberg covering the final track, SDG3, with discussions around good Health and wellbeing. His talk led a panel discussion on Health, climate change, and primary health care.</p><p>It was refreshing to see how universities on the African continent embrace innovation around sustainable development goals and are in touch with the surrounding communities. Together, they find sustainable solutions for the challenges they face daily: hunger, poverty, energy, clean water, and more.</p><p>Dr. Kolawole Adisa Olonade, from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Lagos in Nigeria, painted the future of Africa along the theme of the rapid pace of urbanization in Africa – highlighting the constant need for housing, buildings, and infrastructure. Although urbanization is a worldwide phenomenon, they didn't look for a solution further than their front porch. In their search for potential biomaterials in their environment, they used the waste of their staple food — Cassava — to develop ash that could replace cement while enabling a possible 15 percent carbon emission saving.</p><p>They constructed a solid concrete structure from Cassava ash cement on their campus to prove their theory. But it didn't end there: They went back to the communities where primarily women harvest Cassava and were taught how to produce the ash, which they can now sell for additional income to the community. They closed the circle.</p><p>Dr Olonade's presentation was one of many that showcased the culture of innovation and collaboration that exists between universities and their communities. They use what they have readily available to innovate and give back to the community to prosper.</p><p>Delegates left the conference with valuable information and motivated to find solutions to help this world reach the 2050 net zero future goal.</p><p>The Symposium was hosted by Robert Kotze and his team at SU International and the programme coordinated by Corina du Toit at the <a href="https://susdev.sun.ac.za/">SDG/2063 Impact Hub</a> at the Centre for Collaboration in Africa (at SU International). Keep an eye on SU International website and social media for more information on this legacy event. The event was a runner-up to the release of the latest <a href="https://susdev.sun.ac.za/files/2024/03/SusDevAnnualReport_22_23_StellenboschUniversity.pdf">Sustainable Development Annual Report 2022/2023</a> produced by the Hub that was released in the same week.<br></p><p><br></p><p> ​</p><p><br></p>
SIAN 2024 delegates dissect dos and don’ts of internationalisation in higher education.https://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=10519SIAN 2024 delegates dissect dos and don’ts of internationalisation in higher education.Daniel Bugan<p>​​​The intricacies of internationalisation in higher education came under the spotlight at the Stellenbosch International Academic Networks (SIAN) 2024 meeting hosted by Stellenbosch University (SU) International from 13 to 15 March.<br></p><p>SIAN is an annual gathering of SU's international partner universities. This year, more than 100 delegates from 70 university partners across 27 countries attended.<br></p><p>“Since its inception in 2003, SIAN has matured into a significant network dedicated to bringing together our partners to share experiences, build partnership capital and foster personal connections," said Prof Wim de Villiers, SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor, in his welcoming address. “I wholeheartedly support all efforts to explore potential for collaboration because that is the only way we will be able to address the complex issues that society faces today." And with Africa's population expected to almost double by 2050, there is enormous opportunity for growth and collaboration in higher education on the continent, he added.<br></p><p><strong>Four cornerstones for successful African collaboration</strong></p><p>While it has a global reach, SU remains firmly rooted in Africa. This saw the first session of the meeting explore trends in international higher education on the continent, featuring speakers from both SU and fellow African institutions.</p><p>In his talk, Dr Nico Elema, director of SU International's Centre for Collaboration in Africa, identified four cornerstones of successful collaboration between African partners. “The first is context. Africa is not one country; the continent is massive. Support local and regional initiatives within larger African programmes to drive the African agenda," Dr Elema said. “The second is equitable partnerships that drive local research and capacity development. In the African context, an equitable partnership means 100/100. Only then can we find common ground to move forward."</p><p>He continued: “The third cornerstone is institutional commitment to create an enabling environment for African science academies, universities and research institutions to thrive. Here, we need to answer some tough questions: How mature are our national science systems? How autonomous are our higher education institutions really? Are we solely relying on external funding from the Global North? The fourth and final cornerstone is personal commitment. Remain Afro-optimists and engage with other colleagues on the continent. Support Africa's established and emerging researchers, mobility exchanges, think tanks and capacity development programmes."​</p><p><br></p><p><strong>New African-based school-leaving qualifications unlock higher education opportunities </strong></p><p>SIAN delegates also heard from SU's Unit for International Credentialing (SU-UIC), whose work includes quality-assuring external school-leaving qualifications administered in and for Africa. </p><p>“The cross-border movement of people has become more diverse and complex and is increasingly affecting education opportunities and systems," said Prof Sarah Howie, director of the ​Africa Centre for Scholarship. “From 1960 to 2015, international migrants increased from 93 million to 241 million. Immigration rates in countries as diverse as Costa Rica, Côte d'Ivoire, Malaysia and South Africa are two to three times above the global average." This is why the SU-UIC is working with both the South African Independent Examinations Board (IEB) and the Examinations Council of Lesotho to ensure homegrown yet high-quality school-leaving qualifications that offer access to higher education at top institutions on the continent and further afield.</p><p>With the IEB, the Unit quality-assures the International Secondary Certificate (ISC), which is comparable to the United Kingdom's AS-levels and the Australian Senior Secondary Certificate. Also benchmarked nationally by Universities South Africa (USAf), the ISC has been found to be on a par with South Africa's National Senior Certificate, and students who pass it with merit could apply to institutions worldwide. The ISC is currently offered in Namibia, Mozambique and Eswatini.</p><p>Consultations with the Examinations Council of Lesotho, in turn, are aimed at quality-assuring the new Lesotho Advanced Secondary Certificate. Preparations for the implementation of the qualification are under way, including the training of quality assurance officers and the review of syllabi, sample papers and processes.</p><p>“The SU-UIC's focus is more on quality enhancement than mere conformity to standards," said Unit coordinator Mia Andersen. “We are moving beyond a compliance culture as we collectively try to navigate this complex and dynamic world of internationalised education."</p><p><strong>Internationalisation at African partners</strong></p><p>Delegates from other African institutions also shared their internationalisation strategies. According to Meryem El Alaoui from Université Internationale de Rabat (UIR) in Morocco, their internationalisation strategy aligns with the goals of the Kingdom of Morocco, the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, as well as King Mohamed VI's plan to strengthen relations with other African countries. “To this end, our integrated strategy includes encouraging students and staff to participate in mobility programmes. We have also developed joint degrees with our partners, as well as English-focused courses. In addition, we try to recruit international students – 10% of them are currently from sub-Saharan Africa – and we integrate internationalisation at home through different activities."</p><p>Elaborating on the University of Namibia's internationalisation strategy, Dr Romanus Shivoro said: “Our strategy rests on the pillars of global partnerships and networks, a diverse international student and staff body, international research activities, and being a responsive industry partner. We have developed key partnerships with countries from Africa, Asia, Europe, as well as the Americas. Internationalisation is key to us, and we hope to explore further partnership agreements through this SIAN event."</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Reflecting on responsible internationalisation</strong></p><p>In a session devoted to responsible internationalisation, Robert Kotzé, senior director of SU International, stressed the importance of knowing, understanding and working with your institution's context. “At SU, for instance, we understand that our institution is rooted in Africa, with a global reach. That is the context that determines how we think about internationalisation, and how we engage with it," he said.</p><p>“If your institution is pursuing responsible internationalisation, your internationalisation policy, strategy and understanding should also speak to the values that your institution aspires to," he added. Again referring to SU as an example, he said internationalisation at SU was informed by a purposeful commitment as guided by the University's Vision 2040 and Strategic Framework 2019-2024. “We aim for comprehensive internationalisation, integrating an international, intercultural and global dimension into all aspects of the University, based on SU's values of excellence, compassion, accountability, respect and equity. We also aim to advance quality research and innovation, learning and teaching in service of society. In this way, we hope to be an internationally recognised research-intensive institution rooted in Africa, with a global reach."</p><p>Responsible internationalisation also requires institutions not to lose sight of local and national imperatives, Kotzé concluded. “In South Africa and at SU, we have a responsibility to address inequality and improve our employment equity profile. Therefore, our recruitment of international students and staff must not hamper our employment equity efforts. We also have more work to do to offer socioeconomically disadvantaged students opportunities to participate in mobility. Currently, fewer than 5% of students participating in outgoing mobility are from disadvantaged backgrounds."​</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Reimagining being an internationalisation practitioner – opportunities for support staff</strong></p><p>Internationalisation goes far beyond academic exchanges, however. Every university stakeholder, including those in the professional administrative support services (PASS) environment, can and should be an internationalisation practitioner. To explore this further, three partner universities discussed how they joined forces to facilitate mobility opportunities for their PASS staff.</p><p>According to Lidia du Plessis, programme manager for Staff Internationalisation at SU International, when SU in 2018 introduced its Vision 2040 and Strategic Framework 2019-2024, mobility programmes were still only meant for academic staff. “As SU International, we had to reimagine staff mobility, and that is when I approached one of our partners, Lund University in Sweden, and we initiated the blended international programme for PASS staff," she explained. “The programme, which ran over six months, was a combination of online sessions and in-person mobility weeks at both Lund and SU." Through this unique programme, participants were able to develop intercultural skills, foster inclusion, discuss internationalisation in diverse university fields, share best-practice examples, and engage in job shadowing.</p><p> </p><p>The opportunity then arose for a trilateral staff development programme when Northwestern University in the United States joined forces with partners Hamburg and Stellenbosch universities. Running since 2022, the programme ends this year. Each university is afforded an opportunity to serve as host and choose a theme that plays to their strengths. Each partner selects five participants. First up as host, SU presented the 2022 event under the theme “Inclusive internationalisation competences". In 2023, Northwestern chose the theme “Alumni engagement and development". The Hamburg-hosted event this year will conclude the programme. Positive spinoffs from the programme include the development of an online intercultural competency programme hosted by Northwestern, new connections between and within partner institutions, the ploughing back of new knowledge at home institutions, and staff's personal development and growth.</p><p>Northwestern's Kim Rapp, assistant vice-president of International Relations, confirmed that the trilateral staff development programme had strengthened institutional partnerships with SU and Hamburg. “One of the things I really like is that Northwestern is now well known among the staff at Hamburg and Stellenbosch, which raises our visibility. New relationships also developed between staff outside of our respective international offices." Internally, the programme also fostered collaboration between Northwestern's own units, with staff learning about one another's departments and roles, she added.</p><p>Hamburg University's objective with participating in the programme was to facilitate the internationalisation of staff at all levels, develop intercultural competencies, strengthen strategic partnerships, and increase visibility of partnerships and their work within the university. So said Eva Leptien, manager of Partnerships in Hamburg University's Department of International Affairs. “Staff exchange programmes are one of the building blocks of our internationalisation strategy," she added. Leptien also used the SIAN meeting as a platform to announce the theme for the 2024 trilateral staff development event, namely “Integrating sustainability across higher education institutions". ​</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Being intentional about partnerships</strong></p><p>The final session focused on universities' partnership portfolios, and best practices in managing those. Speakers from Leipzig University, the University of Groningen and SU delved deeper into the topic.</p><p>Marie Plinke of Leipzig University said that her institution's process to structure their partnership portfolio included the “adaptation of existing university agreements into appropriate formats, intensification of active existing university partnerships, and reduction of the administrative burden". She made the key point that the identification of active international partners could help guide and inform strategic decision-making by university management.</p><p>SU International's Sarah van der Westhuizen, director of the Centre for Global Engagement, shared the lessons that SU had learned from being an active partner in a strategic partnership. “Through being an active partner, a specific working process was identified that could be applied to other strategic or comprehensive partnerships," she said. She added that an alignment of funding and collaborative instruments at both partners was essential for a successful partnership, as were joint ownership, shared evaluation measures, and discussions about equity.</p><p>“In an increasingly complex world, partnerships, including strategic partnerships, are essential for maintaining and enhancing the quality of education and research, and to ensure a joint approach towards solving small and grand societal challenges," said Anita Veldtmaat of the University of Groningen. She also emphasised the need for internal seed funding as a key requirement for partnership success.</p><p>In addition to the formal sessions, the SIAN meeting also included workshops on building institutional capacity for international higher education and responsible internationalisation in Africa. At a Study Abroad fair, SU students were able to connect with potential foreign study destinations. A visit to SU's Ukwanda Rural Clinical School in Worcester and an excursion to the V&A Waterfront were the perfect way to finish the programme.</p><p>​Images from the <a href="https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1WuDZhK33ViNYcUST3Q6W1TBKDEtk1I41?usp=sharing">SIAN 2024.​</a><br></p><p><br></p>
ADA Summer School empowers tomorrow’s scholarshttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=10482ADA Summer School empowers tomorrow’s scholarsCorporate Communications and Marketing<p>​​February was a prolific month for the African Doctoral Academy (ADA) at Stellenbosch University (SU). Over the course of three weeks, the ADA welcomed PhD students and academics from 15 African countries who participated in the Academy's Hybrid Summer School. On offer this year was 16 different courses of which five were new – including one on artificial intelligence and scientific research. <br></p><p>The courses were presented by a group of highly skilled local and international academic experts from countries such as Ireland, the United Kingdom (UK), Germany and America. Several successful ADA scholarship holders from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia, Mauritius and South Africa attended the Summer School, as well as delegates from the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) Centre of Excellence in Energy.</p><p>The ADA Summer School strives to provide comprehensive training in impactful research design and methodology, along with opportunities for academic readiness and career advancement. The courses are designed for doctoral students and prospective PhD candidates, their supervisors and researchers.</p><p>Irene Mutuzo, a PhD student in organisational psychology from Makerere University in Uganda, was full of praise for this year's doctoral school. “I've recently switched over from the corporate world to academia and at the start of my PhD journey, I felt a bit overwhelmed. The past two weeks have been amazing. I've learnt so much and I've acquired skills that I believe will enable me to work smarter and faster. I've also met incredibly intelligent and inspiring mentors." </p><p>His experience at the doctoral summer school was very enlightening, said Bathromeu Mavusa, a PhD student in political science at SU. “I was initially very sceptical about artificial intelligence, but Dr Sonja Strydom completely changed my mind in her lecture. I learned that AI can be a valuable tool in academia, offering support and insights rather than replacing human intelligence. It's crucial to strike a balance between human intellect and AI assistance. The discussions on power relations and ethical considerations surrounding AI were eye-opening, especially regarding its implications for the Global South." Additionally, he found the Mixed Methods research course particularly beneficial as it expanded his understanding of research methodologies, Mavusa said. </p><p>The opportunity to connect fellow delegates from various African countries and beyond with international and local presenters during the ADA Summer School has been invaluable, fostering a sense of academic fellowship and collaboration, said Dr Natalie Kowalik, ADA Programme Manager at the Africa Centre for Scholarship at SU. </p><p>“These experiences will hopefully not only propel individual academic trajectories but also contribute to the collective advancement of scholarship across Africa and beyond," Kowalik noted. “The ADA's doctoral schools have sparked considerable interest, yet delegates often face financial challenges. In response, the ADA this year offered its first full 'hyflex' course (a format that allows students to choose between attending classes in person, remotely, or through a combination of both), showcasing the ADA's commitment to offering impactful doctoral training, catering to delegates unable to travel. The Mixed Methods course received immense positive feedback from delegates – in-person as well as those joining online."</p><p>On 5 February the ADA and the Postgraduate Forum for Southern Africa (PGFSA) hosted a joint event which culminated in the official relaunch of the PGFSA. The event took place at the Wallenberg Conference Centre at STIAS, under the theme “International Trends in Postgraduate Education and Fostering Research Collaboration Across Africa and Beyond". </p><p>Prof Hester Klopper, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Strategy, Global and Corporate Affairs at SU, offered a warm welcome to local and international guests. The guest speaker at the launch event was Prof Gina Wisker from the University of Bath in the UK who gave an insightful presentation about trends in doctoral studies internationally.</p><p>A panel discussion facilitated by Dr Henriette van den Berg of the PGFSA focused on international trends in postgraduate education and ways of fostering research collaboration across Africa and beyond. </p><p>The ADA's Hybrid Summer School was concluded on a high note when Prof Sibusiso Moyo, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Postgraduate Studies at SU, gave an inspiring guest lecture on the strategic imperatives of fostering research collaboration. Moyo challenged the ADA summer school participants to use their newly acquired insights and networks to find innovative solutions for challenges such as poverty, inequality, unemployment and corruption.</p><p><strong>PHOTO: Ignus Dreyer</strong></p><p>​<br></p>
Beyond Boundaries: Stellenbosch University's Winter Camp in China https://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=10458Beyond Boundaries: Stellenbosch University's Winter Camp in China CISU<p>​The 2023 Winter Camp to China, jointly organised by the Confucius Institute at Stellenbosch University (CISU) and Xiamen University, embarked on a transformative fourteen-day expedition in December. There were 16 students and one teacher who participated in the camp.<br></p><p>The Winter Camp were hosted by the China Center for Language Education and Cooperation (CLEC), which plays a key role in promoting the development of international Chinese language education and strengthen Chinese-foreign humanistic exchanges. As such, the overall aim of the visit was to meet the needs of overseas youths to learn Chinese language and culture, and to stimulate their enthusiasm for learning.</p><p>Upon their arrival, the group was welcomed by Xiamen University's  vice dean of Chinese International Education, Gen Hu​</p><p>​<strong>Immersed in both education and culture</strong></p><p>With the theme of "Minnan Heritage", this winter camp covered Chinese language learning, cultural lectures, research experience and other contents, and the campers experienced the charm of Minnan culture from a close distance.</p><p> They visited Beijing and the cities of Xiamen and Quanzhou in Fujian Province for cultural exchanges and study tours, like Chinese food culture, instrument(Guqin), historic building Kulangsu Islet and so on. Visits to iconic landmarks such as the Summer Palace, Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall in the snow complemented the experience.​</p><p><strong>Valuable takeaways</strong></p><p>The winter camp in China served as a transformative journey for participants, reshaping perceptions, and deepening cultural appreciation. Here's a synthesis of insights from the diverse group:</p><p>Johnne-Leigh was captivated by iconic landmarks like the forbidden & summer palaces and the Great Wall. His misconceptions about the Chinese were dispelled, highlighting the nation's genuine warmth. Shieka's admiration for the Great Wall and the efficiency of Chinese transport systems underscored the nation's blend of ancient wonders with modernity. Maxine De Lange's enchantment with China's architecture was a common sentiment, with many participants echoing her shift in media perception after experiencing the country firsthand.</p><p>Nina's deep dive into Chinese instruments and culture resonated with others' experiences of confirming positive pre-visit views. Hylton and Chelsea both acknowledged the stark contrast between media portrayals and the vibrant realities they encountered, emphasizing the camp's role in fostering global understanding. Jessica Clarke and Maysoon found immense value in the camp's diverse experiences, with Jessica particularly highlighting China's cleanliness and safety. Kevin Syfert and Tamzin recognized the nuances often overlooked by media, such as China's eco-initiatives and rapid development. Lastly, Thomas's emphasis on Chinese hospitality and the genuine cultural immersion the camp provided was a sentiment echoed by many.</p><p> Overall, the camp emerged as a pivotal experience, with participants unanimously advocating for its transformative impact and considering future engagements with China.​</p><p><br></p>
Speech therapist overcomes mental health challenges after years of strugglinghttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=10395Speech therapist overcomes mental health challenges after years of strugglingCorporate Communications and Marketing (Hannelie Booyens)<p>​​​​​When Firdous Sulaiman walked across the stage to get her degree in Speech, Language and Hearing Therapy on Tuesday (12 December), it was a triumphant conclusion to years of struggling. Having had to repeat three years of her studies at Stellenbosch University (SU), a car accident in 2020 became a catalyst for major change in her life. While receiving therapy for post-traumatic stress after the accident, Sulaiman was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and dyslexia. <br></p><p>The subsequent interventions and support Sulaiman received radically changed her life. From feeling despondent and doubting that she was ever going to graduate, she ended her final year as one of the top students in the class of 2023. This remarkable turnaround and Sulaiman's tenacity to keep going after failing three academic years, earned her a Rector's Award for Excellence in Academic Resilience in October this year. </p><p>Receiving the award meant the world to her because it recognised the perseverance and drive it took to achieve success, Sulaiman says. She always yearned to receive a medal or certificate, she adds. “It's with great happiness that I'm now able to say that when it mattered most, at the end of my undergraduate journey, I received recognition that trumps all the previous awards I wished I'd received. My uncle told me something quite profound as he congratulated me on the Rector's Award. He said anyone can be recognised for achieving top marks and distinctions, but it takes a special person to be awarded something specifically for their character."</p><p><strong>Getting help</strong></p><p>Sulaiman recalls that at the end of matric a parting message pained her: “You have so much potential". “I never had it easy at school. I always had to work hard beyond my capabilities and never saw the results I expected. All I ever heard was that I had to pull up my socks because I could perform so much better. When you have mental health issues, it looks like you're lazy, as though you're not taking studying seriously. I would do my best and give 110%, but it was never good enough. Because I didn't show the typical signs of being dyslexic – I've always been a good reader – teachers couldn't understand why I didn't perform better." </p><p>Only after the dyslexia diagnosis did Sulaiman realise that being a fluent reader does not mean you fully comprehend what you're reading. </p><p>The therapist Sulaiman saw after the accident, Karin Huyssen, advised her to get help from SU's support structures for students with disabilities. “She referred me to the Disability Unit, and she recommended that I get special assistance such as extra writing time during tests and exams." Huyssen also wrote to the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at SU to advise how they could accommodate Firdous' special needs in the classroom. Huyssen recommended a speech therapist who specialises in treating autistic patients. The Disability Unit funded the sessions which helped Sulaiman navigate exams and other academic challenges.</p><p>She also started seeing an educational psychologist, Lamees Chetty, at the Tygerberg campus. Sulaiman credits therapists and lecturers, along with the unwavering support from her parents, with helping her through her struggles and motivating her to get back on track after making a difficult decision to interrupt her studies in 2020. </p><p>“I had been pushing my body and mind beyond its limits for four years. I didn't allow my mind the rest it needed, I didn't take care of my sensory needs and debilitating anxiety but ended up using it as fuel to push myself. It took a lot of counselling and education to convince me why an interruption to my studies was the best move forward. Educating myself on my diagnosis and my needs was a major game-changer which impacted not only my academic life but also my relationships with family and friends," Sulaiman explains.</p><p>Until she started taking medication for anxiety, Sulaiman thought it was normal to feel nauseous every day. “Apart from medication, what worked for me was seeing specialists and getting special concessions from the faculty. A specific lecturer was designated for me whom I would see once every two weeks to address any issues. I had extra tutorials with the module coordinator once a week which made it easier to maintain my academic focus." </p><p>Sulaiman also found inspiration in a support group for autistic and neuro-divergent students to help them navigate challenges. Better understanding her needs enabled her to forgive herself for not performing as well as other students over the years. </p><p><strong>Becoming an advocate for mental health</strong></p><p>Small adjustments changed the trajectory of her life, such as taking care of her sensory needs. “In classes and during exams I was allowed to take time out when I felt overwhelmed. The results of these changes were amazing. Last year was the first year I didn't need to repeat any modules. This year, my lecturers were shocked that the student who had always been struggling had become one of the top clinical achievers in class," Sulaiman laughs.</p><p>She says it's difficult to describe what graduating at the end of 2023 means to her. “I was so used to constantly struggling that it feels unreal to do so well." Being celebrated for her achievements is a novel but wonderful feeling, Sulaiman admits.</p><p>Over the past two years, she has become an advocate for mental health awareness, also at home where she advised her parents to get help for her younger brother who was struggling at school. “He has also been diagnosed with dyslexia and autism and since he started getting therapy and accommodations were put in place for him, he's now a straight-A student," Sulaiman says proudly. </p><p>Being neuro-divergent has made her a better speech therapist, she believes. “I'm able to personally relate to patients who struggle with disabilities. I don't need to mask when I'm around them, I can just be myself." Although she is keen to eventually do research about how to best accommodate the needs of autistic patients in speech therapy, Sulaiman now looks forward to taking a break from academia to start working as a speech therapist. </p><p>“I am so fortunate to have truly fallen in love with speech therapy through finding myself. Within my community, I have identified a lot of misunderstandings and miseducation regarding mental health. Parents often only start seeing it as something to be addressed once it impacts their child's academic performance. In many instances speech disorders are a result of underlying neurological, physical, or psychological differences. As a speech therapist I'll be able to identify warning signs and advocate for intervention where appropriate. I also plan on providing education and promotion to communities that are most at risk," Sulaiman says. </p><p>As she celebrated graduating with friends and family, she reminded loved ones of a famous Albert Einstein quote: “It's not that I'm so smart, it's just that I have stayed with problems longer."</p><p><strong>PHOTO: Stefan Els</strong></p><p>​<br></p>
Disaster risk scholars engage at first Periperi U CARP workshop https://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=10358Disaster risk scholars engage at first Periperi U CARP workshop SU International <p><span style="text-align:justify;">T</span><span style="text-align:justify;">he Periperi U secretariat, situated in Stellenbosch University (SU) International's Centre for Collaboration in Africa, hosted its first workshop under the Climate Adaptation Research Programme (CARP) at Ardhi University in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The aim of the event, held from 30 October to 2 November 2023, was to help establish the CARP community, which offers early-career and established African professionals working in the climate adaptation field a platform to network, engage and collaborate.</span><br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Among the 70 participants were Tanzanian government officials, underscoring the importance of engagement between risk reduction practitioners and policymakers to address the continent's climate adaptation challenges. </p><p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>Cross-border collaboration</strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">CARP is run in partnership with the Humanitarian Assistance Technical Support (HATS) project at the University of Arizona and is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Its intention is to support applied climate adaptation research in Africa, with a particular focus on the implications for disaster risk reduction policies and strategies.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Apart from Tanzania, countries represented at the workshop included South Africa, Senegal, Nigeria, Algeria, Kenya, Uganda, Madagascar, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Morocco, Rwanda and the United States. Participants included emerging scholars from the 33 CARP research projects taking place across ten African countries. The programme featured several discussion sessions, group activities, research poster presentations as well as field excursions to project sites focused on reducing flooding vulnerability and risk in Dar es Salaam. </p><p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>CARP expansion plans formalised </strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The event also saw the Periperi U secretariat sign an agreement with the University of Arizona to expand CARP up to 2028. The expanded initiative, CARP-PLUS, with its additional budget of $2,05 million will provide more funding for vital climate change and disaster risk research, travel to major strategic events, and sponsorship to attend training across the continent.  </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The next CARP workshop will be held in 2024 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. <br><br></p><p>​<br></p>
2023 SU–Lund staff development programme draws to a closehttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=103592023 SU–Lund staff development programme draws to a closeSU International <p>​<strong>2023 SU–Lund staff development programme draws to a close</strong><br></p><p>Following a group of ten Stellenbosch University (SU) staffers' visit to Lund University in Sweden in September 2023 as part of a first-of-its-kind mobility programme for support services staff, a Lund delegation reciprocated in November, travelling to Stellenbosch for an in-person engagement. </p><p>According to Lidia du Plessis, SU International's programme manager of Staff Internationalisation, the six-month bilateral mobility initiative focuses on the professional development and continuing education of professional administrative support services (PASS) staff. The programme offers PASS staff a chance to learn new skills and have an international experience while interacting with peers. </p><p>Activities of the blended programme kicked off in June with an online session, which offered both SU and Lund participants an opportunity to get to know one another before their in-person visits.  </p><p><strong>Innovative and inspiring </strong></p><p>“The programme provides an international opportunity to develop support staff and contributes to SU's core strategic themes of building purposeful partnerships and inclusive networks and being an employer of choice," says Lidia. “Seeing its impact on not only the participants, but also the environments they come from inspires me to keep developing opportunities for PASS staff to take part in international mobility and to expose them to their peers globally."  </p><p>Dr Pär Svensson, senior advisor for African Partnerships at Lund University, is equally satisfied with the programme the two institutions have created jointly. “The Lund-SU programme is unique in giving support staff the chance to internationalise and job-shadow colleagues at another university overseas," he says. “It is innovative in combining digital and physical mobility to establish long-term friendships." </p><p><strong>Valuable lessons learnt</strong></p><p>Melissa Siegelaar, learning and teaching support officer in the office of the dean of Economic and Management Sciences (EMS), was one of the Stellenbosch staffers who job-shadowed her Swedish peers. “The visit to Lund University was a great learning experience," she says. “The lessons that I learnt were not necessarily specific to my role in EMS, but will help me do my job better and more efficiently overall."</p><p>The programme concludes on 4 December 2023 with a final online reflection. </p><p><br><br></p><p>​<br></p>
SU Japan Centre hosts inaugural JICA Chair lecture https://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=10362SU Japan Centre hosts inaugural JICA Chair lecture Sue Segars<p>​<strong>SU Japan Centre hosts inaugural JICA Chair lecture</strong><br></p><p>Marking another milestone in its longstanding collaboration with Japan, Stellenbosch University (SU) hosted the first Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Chair lecture in October. The event was facilitated through SU's Japan Centre.</p><p>The lecture was delivered by Dr Shinichi Kitaoka, a former president of, and now special advisor to, JICA, which, according to Japan Centre director Prof Scarlett Cornelissen, is one of the world's largest providers of bilateral development assistance. The theme of the seminar, hosted at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS), was Japan's modernisation and global development cooperation. </p><p><strong>Lots to learn from Japan's transition</strong></p><p>Titled “The making of modern Japan", Dr Kitaoka's talk focused particularly on the Meiji era from 1868 to 1912, which ushered in a period of economic, social and political reforms. The catalyst for Japan's modernisation was the 1868 political revolution, or Meiji Restoration, which ended shogunate reign under feudalism and restored imperial rule. </p><p>Dr Kitaoka highlighted some of the “dividends" Japan enjoyed during this transition, such as commercial growth, high levels of literacy, and the preservation of its unique culture. While Japan had made many mistakes, he said, its successful transition to democracy provided many lessons for developing countries. </p><p><strong>Cherishing ties with Japan</strong></p><p>Prof Hester Klopper, SU's Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Strategy, Global and Corporate Affairs, says SU was honoured to host the lecture just a year after the launch of the University's Japan Centre as a hub of academic, research and cultural exchange between the two countries. In 2024, SU will also host the sixth South Africa–Japan University Forum in Stellenbosch as part of its ongoing collaboration with Japan. </p><p>The JICA Chair series helps SU realise its vision of being Africa's leading research-intensive university, notes Klopper. “As a university, we are responsible not only for the academic training of our students, but also for preparing our students to make a difference and contribute to a sustainable future," she says. “Initiatives like this help us build bridges and create a social justice space across the globe for the future."</p><p>Klopper adds that SU has a long history of cultural exchange with Japan. Records from the SU Archives document visits dating back to 1935, when the consul of Japan was invited to present films about Japan to the SU community. “SU wishes to build on this work that was initiated years ago," Klopper says. In 2018, the University also collaborated with the embassy of Japan to host a seminar in joint celebration of SU's Centenary and the centenary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. <br><br></p><p>​<br></p>
Looking towards 2024https://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=10363Looking towards 2024Prof Hester Klopper, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Strategy, Global and Corporate Affairs<p>​As another year draws to a close, we reflect again on how far we have come and look towards the future to what we would like to achieve in 2024.<br></p><p>Over the past year, there have been many highlights, of which the biggest one is probably that Stellenbosch University celebrated 30 years of formalised internationalisation in March. Many of our partners from across the globe – 128 participants representing 76 institutions from 37 countries – joined us in Stellenbosch for this huge milestone.</p><p>This event set the tone for 2023, and our successes are evident in the impact of our work through our partnerships and participation in global networks and consortia. </p><p>For 2024, we plan to build on our achievements of this year through further enhancement of SU's commitment to comprehensive internationalisation. From a strategic perspective, we will focus on continuing to augment the integration of an international, intercultural and global dimension into the purpose, functions and programmes for all our students and staff members.</p><p>We therefore want our students and staff to have an even more enriching experience in attaining global competencies. This implies that our partners who collaborate with us and whose students come to study at our campuses benefit even more from their exchanges with Stellenbosch University.</p><p>In 2024, we will continue to build partnerships with more diverse institutions and leverage our participation in multilateral networks and consortia for the advancement of higher education globally. </p><p>But first, in South Africa, universities we will be closing for the summer holidays and taking a well-deserved break. It is a time to recharge, and we plan to come back middle January with renewed vigour and tackle the many exciting projects in internationalisation that we have planned.</p><p>Be sure that we will take you – our valued institutional partners and collaborators in networks and consortia – on an exciting journey within the global higher education space in 2024.</p><ul><li><strong><em>Prof Hester C. Klopper, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Strategy, Global and Corporate Affairs</em></strong></li></ul><p>​<br></p>
Team Stellenbosch networks at EAIE conferencehttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=10360Team Stellenbosch networks at EAIE conferenceSU International <p>​​​Stellenbosch University (SU) International was well represented at the 2023 edition of the European Association for International Education (EAIE) conference in Rotterdam in the Netherlands at the end of September. The ten-member delegation were drawn from the areas of student mobility and exchange, student recruitment, financial management, partnership development, Erasmus+ programming, as well as student development and integration. The event offered an opportunity for staff development as well as to engage with partner universities.<br></p><p>To make full use of their visit, the delegation attended various events hosted by SU's partner universities in the run-up to the conference. Partners visited included KU Leuven, the universities of Antwerp and Tilburg, VU Amsterdam and Radboud University. These engagements offered a more intimate opportunity to discuss partner-specific topics.<br></p><div><p>In addition, along with representatives of other South African universities attending the EAIE conference, the Stellenbosch group were invited to a reception at the residence of South Africa's ambassador to the Netherlands, Vusi Madonsela. <br></p><p>Aside from attending the various sessions on the conference programme, SU International also hosted an SU booth on the EAIE exhibition floor . This offered a place to meet up and connect with peers, complete with space for Pokkel, the University’s squirrel mascot <br></p><p>The evening programme featured a number of receptions across Rotterdam, including an SU-hosted event for the International Network of Universities (INU). SU currently holds the INU presidency, and the conference offered a good opportunity for the network's members to reconnect and to meet new guest member Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, Ukraine.</p><p>​<img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/WhatsApp%20Image%202023-12-04%20at%2011.29.07.jpeg" alt="WhatsApp Image 2023-12-04 at 11.29.07.jpeg" style="margin:5px;width:474px;" /><br><em class="ms-rteFontSize-1">(South Africa's ambassador to the Netherlands, Vusi Madonsela visited the SU Booth).</em><br></p><p><em class="ms-rteFontSize-1"></em> Click<a href="https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1z-AQZFx9J94wlsrsgouVe04adp5VfGRT?usp=drive_link" style="text-decoration:underline;"><strong> here​</strong></a><span style="text-decoration:underline;"> </span>to view some images from the EAIE.<br><br><br></p><p><br></p><p>​<br></p></div>
SU strengthens international networks with visit by Consular Corpshttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=10326SU strengthens international networks with visit by Consular CorpsFMHS Marketing & Communications – Wilma Stassen<p>​Collaboration is essential to universities realising their institutional goals, and for that reason, purposeful partnerships and inclusive networks are among Stellenbosch University's (SU) core strategic themes.<br></p><p>This was emphasised during a recent visit by members of the Cape Town Consular Corps to SU's new state-of-the-art Biomedical Research Institute (BMRI) at the Tygerberg Campus—home to the university's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS).</p><p>“It is a strategic objective of the university to foster international partnerships with people like yourselves. It makes our world bigger and brings new perspectives to our faculty and university," Prof Elmi Muller, FMHS Dean, told the delegation in her welcoming remarks. </p><p>The visiting Consular Corps members were made up of Consuls General, Consuls, Honorary Consuls and other consular officials representing 18 different countries. The purpose of the event was to showcase the university's facilities and to build on the existing relationships between SU and the Consular Corps.</p><p>SU has formal bilateral partnerships and other forms of collaboration with higher education institutions in each of these countries, SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor, Prof Wim de Villiers, told dignitaries. “We have no fewer than 339 partner institutions in 66 countries on six continents. Which means that our level of internationalisation is among the highest in South Africa," De Villiers said.</p><p>“As an institution with a global outlook, rooted in Africa, we continuously ask ourselves not only what we're good at, but also what we are good for," he added. “That's why our vision is not only to be Africa's leading research-intensive university, but also to be a place where we advance knowledge in service of society.</p><p>“One of the university's core strategic themes is to conduct research for impact, and this is exemplified by this facility. The BMRI is unparalleled on the African continent in terms of its facilities and research capacity, but also for significant human development through training some of the best students from the continent and exposing them to extensive global research networks," De Villiers said. “The BMRI and the work that we're doing here is a practical demonstration of our aspiration to be a proud African knowledge hub, serving the continent through research innovation and education."</p><p>De Villiers's message of service on the continent was echoed by Prof Nico Gey van Pittius, FMHS Vice-Dean: Research and Internationalisation, who explained how the FMHS targets some of the greatest health issues facing the continent through its research. “We know that Africa bears the brunt of many diseases, and as one of the leading medicine and health sciences faculties on this continent we have a unique responsibility to contribute to addressing these problems," Gey van Pittius acknowledged. “We want to do that by bringing the brightest minds in science and technology together here at the faculty and providing them with cutting-edge technologies to help find solutions to some of Africa's most pressing health issues."</p><p>Gey van Pittius also highlighted the faculty's efforts to build capacity on the African continent. “We don't see our role as only servicing our own needs, we also do capacity building for the rest of the continent," he said. “We are continuously training students and colleagues from other African countries who then takes this knowledge and skills back to their own countries."</p><p>To illustrate the faculty's real-life impact, two prominent SU academics presented some of the work their teams' have accomplished. Prof Portia Jordan, who heads SU's Department of Nursing and Midwifery, made a case for the need to increase and empower the global nursing workforce, and illustrated how her department is heeding the call through several under- and postgraduate programmes. Prof Tulio de Oliveira, Director of the Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation (CERI), relayed how during the Covid-19 pandemic, his team worked tirelessly to track variants on the continent and were responsible for detecting both the Beta and Omicron variants of SARS-CoV-19. He maintained that their work in epidemic tracking on the content is ongoing and emphasised the importance of this work considering climate change and its link to human and animal health.</p><p>The talks were concluded with a word of thanks by Prof Karin Baatjes, FMHS Vice Dean: Learning and Teaching. “It is key to our university's mission to be connected to the world, while enriching and transforming local, continental and global communities," Baatjes said. “May we continue to build strong bonds in our international communities, and to that end, we express our gratitude to all representatives here today."</p><p>After the presentations, dignitaries were taken on a tour of the BMRI to experience the facility first-hand. </p><p>“Stellenbosch University is blessed with an abundance of world-class resources, creating a compelling case for members of the Consular Corps to forge cooperation agreements with the University," said Dr Prieur du Plessis, Deputy Dean of the Cape Town Consular Corps. “A University is measured by the excellence of its work. At the BMRI we have seen first-hand evidence of its outstanding work. I would encourage our members and the University to engage with each other to explore mutual opportunities – opportunities in the interest of advancement in South Africa, and to the benefit of our respective countries."</p><p>Consul General of Romania and Dean of the Consular Corps, Nicolae Andrei Zaharescu, thanked SU for networking with the diplomatic mission in Cape Town. “Supporting the education system in South Africa, through all diplomatic efforts, remains one of our main goals. In the words of Madiba: A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special," Zaharescu concluded.<br></p><p>​<br></p>
Strengthening Africa’s presence in global research arena — Prof Wim de Villiershttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=10313Strengthening Africa’s presence in global research arena — Prof Wim de VilliersWim De Villiers<p>​​Africa Universities' Day was celebrated recently (12 November). In an opinion piece for the <em>Cape Times</em>, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University Prof Wim de Villiers writes that purposeful research collaborations will go a long way in addressing the formidable challenge to level up with Western research and restore Africa's rightful place in global scholarship and research excellence.</p><ul><li>​Read the article below or click <a href="https://storage.googleapis.com/marketiq/134B3CC/JRM-1700107499797_134B58D.pdf"><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0">here</strong></a><strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"> </strong>for the piece as published.</li></ul><p><strong>Wim De Villiers*</strong><br></p><p>“Confronting the challenges of our time differently and more purposefully."  With this apt expression at the launch of the Clusters of Research Excellence between leading African and European universities, Prof Ernest Aryeetey of the Alliance of Research-intensive Universities in Africa (ARUA), summed up the task at hand to ensure that researchers and scholars on the continent uphold and advance Africa's contribution to the world's generation of scientific knowledge.<br></p><p>Despite considerable growth over recent decades, Africa's share of global science production currently stands at 8 per cent. This is clearly insufficient for a continent of 1.3 billion people whose population is expected to almost double by 2050.<br></p><p>On this Africa Universities' Day, celebrated across our continent every 12<sup>th</sup> of November, we take a moment to reflect on the remarkable progress made in the field of higher education.</p><p>The 20 Clusters of Research Excellence (CORE), an initiative of ARUA and the Guild of European Universities, are focused on bringing the best enquiring minds together across scientific disciplines and continental boundaries to tackle some of the most intractable challenges of our time – from preparing the world to fight future pandemics better, to mitigating the devastating effects of climate change.<br></p><p>This collaborative approach for greater societal impact was amplified at the Times Higher Education's World Academic Summit held recently in Sydney, Australia, with the theme: <em>Collaborating for greatness in a multi-disciplinary world</em>.</p><p>Delegates from 50 countries explored how institutions can best collaborate both internally (across departments to accelerate transformative and translational research) and externally (to strengthen regional, national and global collaboration) to enhance the role of universities as key drivers of change within society.<br></p><p>A salient feature of the discussions at the Summit with reference to research collaboration is the challenge of establishing equitable partnerships in a deeply unequal world. Thus, transformative research and a wider endorsement of the Africa Charter for Transformative Research Collaborations enjoyed much attention as a means of finding practical solutions to the scientific challenges of our time and building capacity of the next generation of researchers for Africa and the globe.<br></p><p>At Stellenbosch University (SU), doing research “differently and more purposefully" across regional and continental boundaries has become an institutional ethos – underpinned by innovative thinking and significant investment in accelerating the skills capacity of our continent. <br></p><p>The launch of the billion-rand state-of-the-art Biomedical Research Institute (BMRI) at our Tygerberg campus earlier this year is aimed at collaborative research that will exponentially boost the research capacity in biomedical sciences and holds the promise to revolutionise healthcare on our continent. <br></p><p>Genomic surveillance to control pathogen infections in South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya, Belgium and Germany are well underway and our Centre for Epidemic Response and Innovation (CERI) is assisting 44 African countries with training and capacity building through their Genomics Service and Country Support.<br></p><p>Our researchers have joined forces with European and regional counterparts to respond to pandemic and epidemic pathogens such as COVID, HIV, influenza, tuberculosis, malaria and cholera. <br></p><p>The quest to strengthen Africa's presence in the global research arena, is further underpinned by the Nobel in Africa Symposia where SU is partnering with the Stellenbosch Institute for Advance Study (STIAS) in an initiative that has a special focus on Africa and to nurture future generations of scholars and intellectual leaders on the continent. <br></p><p>The Nobel in Africa Symposia bring together some of the world's top scientists to deliberate on new research discoveries and developments in their field. The first symposium on Physics was held in October last year and was followed by and equally formidable symposium on Chemistry at the end of last month. The symposia, with a strong outreach element, are deliberately aimed at university academic staff and students with the objective to inspire the next generation of scholars on the continent.<br></p><p>There can be no doubt that purposeful research collaborations are powerful instruments to deliver greater, scale-able impact on the communities that we serve – locally, regionally and globally.  It will go a long way in addressing the formidable challenge to level up with Western research and restore Africa's rightful place in global scholarship and research excellence.<br></p><p><strong>*Prof Wim De Villiers is Rector and Vice-Chancellor of Stellenbosch University, South Africa</strong></p><p>​<br></p>
AI in Africa is about people, language and contextual innovation – and higher education can helphttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=10305AI in Africa is about people, language and contextual innovation – and higher education can helpDr Jan Petrus Bosman<p>​African artificial intelligence (AI) is about people. As the Stellenbosch University (SU) representative in <a href="https://www.aheen.net/">AHEEN</a>, I was struck by the story of a data science intern in a Kenyan refugee camp. She worked with a refugee-led student support organisation and applied her data science knowledge and skills in the organisation and to the problems at hand. The feedback on her work was incredible and showed just how much difference a skilled graduate can make in even just a short time. AI in Africa should focus on our talented and resourceful people who can use their AI-related data science skills to bring measurable change where it is needed most.<br></p><p> African AI is about language. The <a href="https://deeplearningindaba.com/2023/">Deep Learning Indaba</a>, initiated by <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/vukosimarivate/?originalSubdomain=za">Prof Vukosi Marivate</a> of the University of Pretoria, and its grassroots AI projects, <a href="https://www.masakhane.io/">Masakhane</a> and <a href="https://lelapa.ai/">Lelapa AI</a>, develop large language models for African languages. The project is described as “a grassroots natural language processing (NLP) community for Africa, by Africans". Here, we see the power of language, which is such a defining feature of our diverse, multilingual continent. While existing large language models (such as ChatGPT) lean towards English and Western languages, these projects help establish an African language, thought and philosophy approach to the training of AI systems. Locally developed AI tools will better serve our African thinking and doing, feeding our insights into the global community. In this way, we can create a more decolonised future in which AI systems 'think through' isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sesotho, Afrikaans, Arabic, Swahili and the like to provide equal and just information, learning, services and opportunities to all African communities.</p><p>African AI is about innovation and contextual entrepreneurship. In his contextual innovation and entrepreneurship course developed for the agrisciences industry, Dr <a href="https://youtu.be/ZlkfsV8UYmU?t=397">Albert Strever</a> (SU) intentionally incorporated AI tools such as ChatGPT and QuillBot in the students' curriculum and learning activities. In the process, he invested in the students' AI literacy and prepared them for a near future where the question will not be whether humans will be replaced by AI, but whether humans <em>with</em> AI will replace humans <em>without</em> AI (<a href="https://hbr.org/2023/08/ai-wont-replace-humans-but-humans-with-ai-will-replace-humans-without-ai?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter_daily&utm_campaign=dailyalert_notactsubs&deliveryName=DM287974">Prof Karim Lakhani</a>). Lecturers should become leaders in incorporating the AI insights of their disciplines into their own teaching, learning and assessment. And, of course, lecturers themselves should also <a href="https://www.edx.org/certificates/professional-certificate/stellenboschx-ai-in-higher-education">learn about AI in higher education</a>!</p><p> AI tools are now available to all higher education stakeholders (students, lecturers and support staff). By focusing on people, language and contextual (Africa-oriented) innovation, African higher education can contribute immensely from a global south perspective. There are a plethora of new social entrepreneurial ideas just waiting to be turned into reality with the help of our computer, data and machine-learning scientists for the benefit of society.</p><p>I conclude with the underpinning philosophy of the <a href="https://deeplearningindaba.com/2023/">Deep Learning Indaba</a>, which strongly resonates with me:</p><p><em> “We work towards the goal of Africans being not only observers and receivers of the ongoing advances in AI, but active shapers and owners of these technological advances."</em></p><p>​<br></p>
University of Bath visits SU Division for Learning and Teaching Enhancement (DLTE)https://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=10260University of Bath visits SU Division for Learning and Teaching Enhancement (DLTE)Dr Nicoline Herman<p>From October 18 to 20, a delegation from the Centre for Teaching and Learning at the University of Bath visited Stellenbosch University. Their visit kicked off with a warm welcome dinner at the historic De Volkskombuis, hosted by Sarah van der Westhuizen and Sarah Richmond from the Stellenbosch University International Office (SUI). The guests were treated to an array of authentic South African cuisine, setting the tone for a fruitful exchange.</p><p>On Thursday, October 19 Dr Rob Eaton (Curriculum Development Manager) Ms Abby Osborne (Assessment and Feedback Development Lead), and Ms Stephanie Kamffer (Project Officer), started the deliberations by sharing their innovative strategies and methodologies in teaching-learning-assessment (TLA). They also discussed the professional development of lecturers for their TLA. The ensuing discussion revealed several areas of mutual interest between the University of Bath and Stellenbosch University.</p><p>In the afternoon, the DLTE introduced the Bath counterparts to the functions and operations of its five units – the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL), Centre for Learning Technologies (CLT), Language Centre (LC), Academic Planning & Quality Assurance (APQ), and Hybrid Learning (HL).</p><p>The morning of October 20 was dedicated to further exploring common TLA ground and discussing potential collaborations between the two institutions. The visit was not only productive but also marked the beginning of what promises to be an enriching partnership.<br></p><p>​<br></p>
Around the world in a week – Global Week 2023https://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=10237Around the world in a week – Global Week 2023SU International <p><span style="text-align:justify;">​From 9 to 12 October, Stellenbosch University (SU) International's Unit for Global Education (UGE) hosted Global Week 2023. The week was marked by various engagements to drive conversations around student mobility, sustainability, and global citizenship.</span><br></p><p>According to Bantubonke Louw, UGE's programme manager of Semester Mobility, the Global Week initiative started in response to the need to intentionally incorporate an international, intercultural and global dimension into the on-campus experience at SU. This forms part of the University's strategic objective to offer both local and international students a transformative experience. “The objective was to provide opportunities for all students and staff to engage in internationalisation-at-home programmes, events and activities. These not only promoted global citizenship, but also fostered integration and intercultural awareness," he says. “The activities and events aimed to contribute to the attainment of SU's graduate attributes and a transformative student experience."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">The week kicked off with the Sustainability World Café on 9 October, hosted in collaboration with the SDG/2063 Impact Hub. The event brought together diverse voices and perspectives from various environments and sectors. “The World Café was an enriching experience that underscored the importance of education, individual initiative, collaboration and leadership on our collective journey towards a more sustainable world," says Corina du Toit, programme manager of the SDG/2063 Impact Hub. “The discussions also highlighted the significance of collaboration as a cornerstone of sustainability efforts. By working together, sharing ideas and pooling resources, we can achieve more and create lasting change on a global scale." </p><p>On 10 October, students gathered at the Krotoa building for the summer and winter school exhibition, were students who had previously attended an SU summer or winter school shared their experiences with their peers. The exhibition was followed by a student funding information session by the Department of Higher Education and Training. </p><p>Later that day, students and staff were treated to a free anime movie screening hosted in collaboration with the SU Japan Centre. In keeping with the aim of Global Week, namely to promote internationalisation, intercultural competencies, and conversations among students and staff, the film, <em>Spirited Away</em>, enabled students to experience some Japanese culture. The central location of the film was a Japanese bathhouse where various Japanese folklore creatures, including kami (the deities or holy powers venerated in the Shinto religion), came to bathe. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The week concluded with a Study Abroad fair and the much-loved international food evening. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Bantubonke says it was rewarding to see how students and staff engaged informally in meaningful conversations on key topics such as the sustainable development goals and the part each of us have to play in achieving them, the benefits of and available funding for Study Abroad opportunities, appreciating diversity, and being aware of others' culture. “In essence, the week provided students and staff the opportunity to 'travel' across the world, while remaining right here on campus, and most definitely opened up a world of possibilities to explore, engage and learn more about themselves and others," he says. </p><p> <br></p><p>​<br></p>
SU delegation networks in Japan https://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=10182SU delegation networks in Japan Stellenbosch University International <p>​In August, a Stellenbosch University (SU) delegation travelled to Japan to interact with university partners and take part in various <a href="https://www.inunis.net/about/">International Network of Universities (INU)</a> engagements. INU comprises 13 member institutions representing 11 countries worldwide, and SU holds the presidency up until 2025.<br></p><p><strong>Busy INU programme</strong></p><p>The INU activities included a leader's summit, student seminar and a council meeting at Hiroshima University. SU was represented by Rector and Vice-Chancellor Prof Wim de Villiers, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Strategy, Global and Corporate Affairs Prof Hester Klopper, Sarah van der Westhuizen (director of SU International's Centre for Global Engagement) and Thami Mahlobo (coordinator at the SU Japan Centre).  </p><p>Themed “The role of universities in internationally changing political and social contexts", the leaders summit culminated in the signing of an <a href="https://www.inunis.net/wp-content/uploads/sites/23/2023/08/SIGNED-INU-Charter-2023.pdf">INU Charter</a> by the respective university leaders, affirming their institutions' commitment to INU goals and activities.</p><p><img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/INU%20leaders%20Summit.jpg" alt="INU leaders Summit.jpg" style="margin:5px;width:666px;" /><br></p><p><em class="ms-rteFontSize-1">Figure 1: University Leaders with signed International Network of Universities Charter 2023</em><br></p><p><em class="ms-rteFontSize-1"><br></em></p><p>The <a href="https://www.inunis.net/studentseminar/">INU International Student Seminar for Global Citizenship and Peace</a>, in turn, saw students from member universities engage on climate emergency and action, while other topics of global significance were tackled at the student symposium, which involved both university leaders and students. </p><p><br><img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/Student.png" alt="Student.png" style="margin:5px;" /><br></p><p><span class="ms-rteFontSize-1"><em>Figure 2: INU Student Seminar</em></span></p><p><span class="ms-rteFontSize-1"><em></em></span>​<br></p><p><strong>Time to reflect</strong></p><p>The activities at Hiroshima were of special significance, marking not only INU's 25<sup>th</sup> birthday and the 75<sup>th</sup> anniversary of the founding of Hiroshima University, but also commemorating the August 1945 atomic bombing of Hiroshima. For this reason, various Hiroshima Peace Memorial events were included in the INU programme. Guests listened to the personal account of bomb survivor Ms Keiko Ogura, visited the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiroshima_Peace_Memorial_Park">Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park</a> and Museum, attended a <a href="https://japan.kantei.go.jp/101_kishida/actions/202308/06hiroshima.html">peace memorial ceremony</a>, and took part in a lantern ceremony.</p><p><img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/Picture9.jpg" alt="Picture9.jpg" style="margin:5px;width:561px;" /><br><em class="ms-rteFontSize-1">Figure 3: Peace Message Lantern Floating Festival</em><br></p><p>These events allowed for a week of meaningful reflection on how universities should strive to play a role in changing political and social contexts globally for the better.</p><p><strong>Further networking</strong></p><p>The SU delegation also used the time while in Japan to visit a number of current and prospective partners. Shortly after their arrival in Tokyo, prior to travelling on to Hiroshima, they had engagements with Waseda University, Meiji University, the University of Tokyo, the United Nations University, and Sophia University. The aim was to strengthen existing partnerships and raise awareness of the sixth South Africa–Japan University (SAJU) Forum, which SU will co-host in 2024.</p><p><img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/Meiji%20University.jpg" alt="Meiji University.jpg" style="margin:5px;" /><br></p><p><em class="ms-rteFontSize-1">Figure 4: Meiji University</em><br></p><p><em class="ms-rteFontSize-1"><img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/Sophia%20University.jpg" alt="Sophia University.jpg" style="margin:5px;" /></em> </p><p><em class="ms-rteFontSize-1"><em class="ms-rteFontSize-1">Figure 5: Sophia University​</em><br></em></p><p><em class="ms-rteFontSize-1"><em class="ms-rteFontSize-1"><br></em></em></p><p><em class="ms-rteFontSize-1"><em class="ms-rteFontSize-1"><img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/university%20of%20Tokyo.jpg" alt="university of Tokyo.jpg" style="margin:5px;width:610px;" /><br></em></em></p><p><em class="ms-rteFontSize-1"><em class="ms-rteFontSize-1">Figure 4: University of Tokyo​<br></em></em></p><p>In addition, once the INU activities drew to a close, some members of the delegation visited the campus of Kansai University in Osaka and interacted with colleagues of the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. Prof De Villiers also attended the <a href="/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=10099">ISPS Sports Values Summit</a> in Tokyo.<br><br></p><p>​<br></p>
Launch of South Africa-Netherlands Cyber Security School 2024 – a first for Southern Africahttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=10179Launch of South Africa-Netherlands Cyber Security School 2024 – a first for Southern Africa Corporate Communication & Marketing / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie & Bemarking <p>​​Stellenbosch University (SU) and <a href="https://hcss.nl/"><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"><strong>The Hague Centre of Strategic Studies​</strong></span></a><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"> </span>(HCSS) have joined forces to launch South Africa's first International Cyber Security School.<br></p><p>This initiative, driven by Prof Bruce Watson, <a href="https://cair.org.za/"><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"><span><strong>Chair of the Centre for AI Research</strong></span><span> </span>​</span></a>(CAIR) and Chair for Computational Thinking at the <a href="/english/data-science-and-computational-thinking"><span class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-0"><strong>School for Data Science and Computational Thinking</strong></span> ​</a>at SU, ​​​​and Noëlle van der Waag-Cowling, also from CAIR, in collaboration with the HCSS and the Netherlands government, will bring together experts, institutions, and the private sector from both the Netherlands and South Africa to deliver a Cyber Security Summer School starting in March 2024.</p><p>Prof Wim de Villiers, SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor and the SU team welcomed Dr Michel Rademaker of HCSS; Ms Hélène Rekkers, Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Cape Town, and Mr Joost Bunk, First Secretary at the Netherlands Embassy to the launch of the South Africa-Netherlands Cyber Security School.<br></p><p>The Rector noted that global partnerships are essential in addressing transnational security effectively. “In today's world, where threats know no borders, international cooperation is paramount. It allows nations to pool their resources, share expertise, and establish the legal frameworks needed to combat cyber threats. It is a recognition that security is a collective responsibility, and we must work together to maintain peace and stability in an ever-evolving digital landscape."</p><p>Watson emphasised the importance of an international Cyber Security School within the context of global moves to support an open internet. “Within universities, and the broader research community, there is a shared notion of the need for an open cyberspace."</p><p>Prof Hester Klopper, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Strategy, Global and Corporate Affairs at SU, said the new School is aligned with the University's strategy to engage with international higher education networks on global issues. </p><p>One of the challenges facing countries around the world is the widening digital divide, said Rekkers. “This Summer School is a very important step to working with South Africa on this issue."</p><p>The online course, which in its pilot phase in 2024 will be available for free, is aimed at honour's students and young professionals with an interest in cyber security. Course work will include challenges set by government agencies and companies to engage students in real-life problem solving. Offering a qualification in cybersecurity studies, the Summer School will be a “gamechanger for South African cyber skills development," explained Van der Waag-Cowling.</p><p>The HCSS is a think tank which conducts multidisciplinary research on geopolitical and defence and security issues for governments, international institutions, and businesses. Through the Cyber Security School, the HCSS will encourage students from various disciplines to use their respective competencies while working together as a team to address challenges, as they would in the workplace, said Rademaker.</p><p>“Building a high-level cybersecurity workforce in Southern Africa is not just a goal; it is a strategic imperative. It is an investment in our future, one that will support economic growth, protect critical infrastructure, enhance national security, and promote digital inclusion," concluded De Villiers. “By prioritising cybersecurity education and training, we can unlock the digital dividends and ensure a more secure and prosperous future for our region."</p><p><strong>Caption:</strong><br>Dr Michel Rademaker of the Hague Centre of Strategic Studies, Prof Wim de Villiers, SU Rector and Vice-Chancellor, and Ms Hélène Rekkers, Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Cape Town at the launch of South Africa's first international Cyber Security School.<br></p><p><br></p><p>​<br></p>
Networks taking internationalisation forwardhttps://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=10171Networks taking internationalisation forwardProf Hester Klopper, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Strategy, Global and Corporate Affairs<p>​In August, the International Network of Universities (INU) celebrated its 25<sup>th</sup> anniversary in Hiroshima, Japan. It was an auspicious occasion, more so for Stellenbosch University (SU), as it was the first coming together of the network under SU's presidency, which we will hold until 2025.<br></p><p>For me personally, it was an honour to preside over the occasion as INU President. INU counts among the most prestigious networks to which SU belongs.</p><p>The INU value statement reads as follow: “We value the development of globally engaged and socially responsible change agents who commit to understanding and addressing the complexities of global and local political, economic, social, cultural and environmental challenges."</p><p>Furthermore, INU believes that by working together, universities can drive meaningful change on various levels – locally, nationally, regionally and globally. This is grounded in the conviction that partnerships and networks are essential for universities to realise their institutional goals and objectives and drive change and progress in society.</p><p>This aligns and resonates with the SU Internationalisation Strategy, which sets a high value on networks such as INU. We endeavour to seek out such mutually beneficial networks where we are able to engage and partner with the world's foremost universities.</p><p>In fact, network engagement is part of SU's Vision 2040. To us, networks offer an innovative way of expanding our global footprint and taking internationalisation in higher education forward into the future.</p><p>Networks increase their members' global profile and enable our researchers and students to collaborate in many ways. This is why SU currently belongs to at least 34 networks, of which more than 12 are on the African continent and the rest abroad.</p><p>In future, SU will continue to play an integral role in global networks as a means of taking internationalisation forward.</p><ul><li><strong><em>Prof Hester C. Klopper, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Strategy, Global and Corporate Affairs</em></strong></li></ul><p><strong> </strong></p><p>​<br></p>
“Looking back is looking forward…” - The next 30 years of internationalisation at SU.https://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=10170“Looking back is looking forward…” - The next 30 years of internationalisation at SU.Robert Kotze, Senior Director: SU International <p>​​​​Stellenbosch University is celebrating 30 years of internationalisation this year and SU International is preparing for an external peer review – lots of looking back happening… <em>Can looking back, be looking forward?</em></p><p> <span style="text-align:justify;">The review is focusing on our alignment with and contribution to SU's Vision and the SU Internationalisation Strategy and on what is in place to deliver our value proposition. It is giving us the </span><strong style="text-align:justify;"><em>possibility</em></strong><span style="text-align:justify;"> to provide a broad and well-informed snapshot of where we are on our journey of </span><em style="text-align:justify;">Improved consolidation, Enhanced alignment and Augmented moving forward</em><span style="text-align:justify;">, our base-line motto for post-COVID to make the most of the known and new </span><strong style="text-align:justify;"><em>possibilities</em></strong><span style="text-align:justify;"> for the </span><strong style="text-align:justify;"><em>people</em></strong><span style="text-align:justify;"> in SU International and the broader SU community, our </span><strong style="text-align:justify;"><em>place</em></strong><strong style="text-align:justify;">.</strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">The snapshot has already brought the following considerations to the fore:</p><ul><li>Newly established entities, like the SDG/2063 Hub, the SU Unit for International Credentialing, the SU Japan Centre, and our engagement with the GUILD of European Research-Intensive Universities are in support of the SU aspiration to be “a proud African knowledge hub that serves the continent through research, innovation and education." In its own right, each one of the entities also contributes to SU's sustainability, “a national asset that serves the diverse needs of our communities".</li><li>SU International is promoting the eight dimensions of the SU Internationalisation Strategy with wide-ranging <strong><em>possibilities</em></strong>: We are dared to build bi- and multilateral partnership for research collaboration to move beyond mere transactional engagements to stronger collaborative transformative programme development. There are also many <strong><em>possibilities </em></strong>for including Globally Networked Learning opportunities in our partnerships.</li><li>There is continued high levels of interest from various stakeholders to visit SU to strengthen existing or to explore new <strong><em>possibilities</em></strong>. Within this stakeholder engagement, the extensive contacts during our own international visit add to the <strong><em>possibilities</em></strong> for going forward. The big question here is: To what extent do we follow up and take matters further? </li><li>There is huge anticipation to see the outcomes of our first year of engagement with international student marketing platforms. How many “clicks" have translated into applications and admissions? How many will eventually register in 2024? Was it possible to increase our 4,2% international undergraduate registrations in 2024? Did it have an impact on SU's commitment to provide access to SA students?</li><li>The Africa bilateral partnership development portfolio is similarly faced by <strong><em>possibilities</em></strong> regarding partnership mapping and development, moving the partnerships on the transactional ß à transformational continuum through including, for example, the UMOJA student leadership initiative, SDG/2063 perspectives and scholarship development into partnership augmentation plans. There might be even <strong><em>possibilities</em></strong> to reframe some partnerships into <em>Thematic bilateral partnerships</em> for more focus,</li><li>Incoming Study Abroad (free movers) numbers have grown as a result of SU's interaction with SKEMA Business School. What is the scope, again <strong><em>possibilities</em></strong>, for growing this portfolio to ensure financial sustainability regarding outgoing mobility bursaries and maintaining, and even strengthening, the SU International service delivery platform?</li><li>We have moved forward regarding our Employment Equity profile. How do we translate that commitment to inclusion into a more diverse cohort of outgoing mobility students? Is it only about increasing the travel bursary amount?</li><li>The portfolio of short-term mobility programmes is significant. Growing the portfolio will need more capacity. However, there is a <strong><em>possibility</em></strong> to go beyond the number of programmes by integrating them within the overarching Global Education Programme to ensure that we contribute to our Global Student Learning Outcomes (GSLOs).</li><li>We have moved forward with creating internationalisation <strong><em>possibilities</em></strong> for PASS colleagues. The notion of “being an internationalisation practitioner" is gaining traction. How do we continue facilitating wider understanding and embracing of internationalisation in the institution beyond SU International?</li><li>Regarding scholarship development, we can point to milestones – a solid roadmap illustrating progress. To what extent should we go beyond the capacity building of the PhD pipeline? How do we submerge the <strong><em>possibilities</em></strong> into our Africa partnerships and our work in African multilateral networks?</li></ul><p style="text-align:justify;">The first part of the stocktaking, compiling the report, has already prompted the above possibilities. It informs our looking forward:</p><ul><li>Bringing all global education initiatives within the Global Education Programme will contribute towards i<em>mproved consolidation.</em></li><li>Further alignment of the new initiatives with SU's aspirations and further development of the international undergraduate student marketing initiatives within the overarching institutional student recruitment imperatives will ensure overall <em>enhanced alignment</em>.</li><li>“Sweet spot" development for each African partnership, a mid-term review of the Partnership Framework and growing the profile of our outgoing student cohort regarding inclusion will facilitate <em>augmented moving forward</em>.</li></ul><p style="text-align:justify;">The engagement with the review panel is forthcoming. This will further help us to learn and look forward to finetune our responses towards the already emerged (“looking back") <strong><em>possibilities</em></strong> and to create an appropriate optical prism for <strong><em>possibilities</em></strong> on the horizon.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">As SU International, we are ready to learn from the review process – from one another, from the review panel and from internal stakeholders. This will enable us to co-create new milestones regarding the <strong><em>possibilities</em></strong> for the <strong><em>people</em></strong> in SU International and the broader SU community, our <strong><em>place</em></strong>, all for the next 30 years.</p><p> </p><p>Robert Kotzé</p><p>21 August 2023</p><p> <img src="/english/PublishingImages/Lists/dualnews/My%20Items%20View/SUI%20stand%20wall%20250%20cm%20x%20400%20cm%20at%20half%20size.jpg" alt="SUI stand wall 250 cm x 400 cm at half size.jpg" style="margin:5px;width:851px;" /><br></p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p>​<br></p>
Staff energised and inspired after Turkey exchange https://www.sun.ac.za/english/Lists/news/DispForm.aspx?ID=10163Staff energised and inspired after Turkey exchange SU International <p></p><p>“The mobility experience allows you to immerse yourself in another's culture, experience their food, streets and transport system, and see first-hand how their university operates," says administrative officer Michelle Masango-Plato. She was was one of seven Stellenbosch University International (SU International) staff members who attended a training week at Sabanci University in Turkey in July. </p><p>The programme explored the potential for partnerships with Sabanci University and exposed staff to their peers abroad. SU International believes that this kind of exposure enables staff to assess and align their standard of work with global best practices. The travellers return as internationalisation catalysts, propelling the internationalisation agenda throughout SU.</p><p>Here is what some of the staff members have to say about their Turkish adventure: </p><p><strong>What did this opportunity mean for your role as internationalisation practitioner?</strong></p><p> Michelle, who works in Short-Term Mobility, reflects: “The experience made me extremely proud to be an internationalisation practitioner. It gave me a new-found appreciation for my job and the strides we have made as an office to translate our plans into action. We have so much to learn, and at the same time, we are so good at what we do." </p><p>Arlynn Fielies, an administrative officer responsible for housing international students and visiting academics, echoes Michelle's sentiments: “The visit was an eye-opener, offering a first-hand glimpse into the operational dynamics of another university's international office. It made me realise that our office stands shoulder to shoulder with our global counterparts, excelling in the services we provide to international students. Remarkably, we often go beyond the call of duty to ensure proper integration once they arrive."</p><p><strong>Why is it important for professional support services staff to participate in staff exchange programmes? </strong></p><p>“An exchange gives you access to new knowledge, skills and views on your development, while the participating university improves its capacity for research and innovation," says Meneshia Koopman, administrative officer working at SU International's reception. “Staff exchange trips often provide opportunities to learn from different work cultures, gain fresh perspectives, and bring back valuable insights to improve your own work environment." </p><p>She adds: “For instance, thanks to the communication skills I gained, my self-confidence improved, which, in turn, helped me build a professional network through the interactions there." </p><p> <strong>What is your most significant takeaway from the experience?</strong></p><p>“Even though I could not directly incorporate everything I learned at Sabanci because of differences in their system and structure, I was able to learn a lot from their office in terms of the processes they followed before students arrive at the university," says Arlynn. Another highlight was the opportunity to experience the city's bustling energy and to visit the attractions that she had previously only seen in pictures.</p><p>To Michelle, too, immersing herself physically in the entire experience was exciting and enlightening. “My highlight was the opportunity to experience Turkey's metro, vibrant streets, and the captivating Cappadocia region."</p><p>This was Meneshia's first time abroad, and she was grateful to experience it with her colleagues. “At the end of the trip, I felt as if I had stepped out of my comfort zone completely and was able to embrace new opportunities for my personal and professional growth. A definite highlight was to discover places such as the Hagia Sophia Mosque." <br></p><p>​<br></p>