MUT INTERNATIONAL WEEK

“If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together”  – African Proverb

 

Presented by Professor Marcus Ramogale, Acting Vice-Chancellor & Principal

Historically, universities have always been international institutions. Those familiar with history will recall that in the medieval period, Latin was the common language of instruction and scholarship among European universities. Both students and professors came from many countries.

Today is no different, our campuses are diversified in student and staff bodies. While Latin is no longer a dominant language, we take note that English is the most predominant medium of instruction. We also note from the literature on International Student and/Staff Mobility that English is one of the Push-Pull factors for students and staff international mobility. 

We start deliberations on our International Week being very cognisant of the impact of Covid-19 on creating new campuses which are more than a shadow of their previous selves, with less staff members, less students, and less international students because many of the international students have opted for Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) and/or Internationalisation at Home (IHA). These are forms of internationalisation that would have been shocking during the medieval world. Trying times call for new inventions. 

Those of you that had an opportunity to read my opinion piece on the MUT’s international magazine, Boundless, will note that I referred to a book, titled ‘A world without work’, in which the writer shows how new technologies have impacted the world of work, bringing dislocation, “but overall people move on; with new jobs getting created and society benefiting despite anxieties when new technologies emerge”. 

Surely, we are benefiting from emerging technologies in the internationalisation arena. We aim for this conference to have been attended by people from across the world some of whom would not need to cross borders but would simply join through online platforms for meetings. 

Drawing from the conference programme, I have used the African idiom, “If you want to walk alone, go fast but if you want to go further, walk together”. We have moved from having one signed MOU in just more than a year to at least over 10 quality MoUs ranging from SA, (CPUT and Univen), Botswana, Namibia, Cameroon, UK, France, Sweden, USA, and there are ongoing discussions in Ghana, Nigeria, India, and across the world. The fact that we have signed two partnerships with universities in France, is a huge milestone for us, given the language barriers and also the fact that we were able to get into Higher Education through the strategic leadership of Ambassador Moncef MEDDED who will also be participating in this programme tomorrow. 

Working with eThekwini Municipality’s Intergovernmental Relations office will provide us with greater leverage than we have imagined.

This week’s deliberations aim to advance our internationalisation agenda and the themes will focus on:

  • Lessons learnt from South Africa’s Department of Higher Education and Training’s Week in France,
  • Understanding of South Africa’s higher education landscape,
  • Navigating partnership challenges,
  • Ability to rise above negativity for collaborations to succeed,
  • Strengthening KwaZulu-Natal’s research agenda,
  • Laying a foundation for international study programmes, 
  • International education opportunities.

I hope this will be a productive International Week which will enable all of us to understand the trajectories of internationalisation, and meet funders as well as major role-players in the internationalisation sector.

This International Week will host esteemed scholars, ambassadors, and professionals in international offices across academia, government, and multi-lateral funding agencies. Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot walk alone on this journey, we need to walk with you so we may go further by 2025.