MUT staff and students
Good morning to you all. Sanibonani nonke. Welcome to our beautiful east coast, in the City of Durban in the Province of KwaZulu Natal.
Thank you so much for attending our 2nd International Week both physically and online. It is an honour to host you this week. We note that some of you have travelled from as far afield as Botswana, Gauteng, Limpopo, and the Free State.
This International Week is part of our implementation plan for our Internationalisation Strategy 2025. That plan entails deepening our knowledge of how the internationalisation agenda at universities is rapidly changing. It is thus for this very reason that every year in November we invite all our strategic partners to add more currency to our internationalisation efforts. The context of internationalisation at universities is dynamic, and you are therefore here to enhance our internationalisation agenda. We do hope that you will also take new lessons learned back home, get our University on your funding radar and also find new ways on how we could all collaborate to improve our mandate for Teaching and Learning, research and innovation, and community engagement.
I am pleased to note that our agenda for the whole week includes representation from diverse stakeholders right through how students could participate in the institutions’ internationalisation efforts whether at home or through cultural immersion programmes. A few years ago, we led our student leaders on a cultural immersion tour. It was the first time most of them had travelled outside South Africa. They returned to South Africa more aware of other cultures and participated positively in the student culture change project that we had developed.
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 fewer staff members and fewer 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 impossible many years ago. I am glad that we have various practitioners that will unpack these programmes more in the course of the week.
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 by the end of this International Week to have reached out and received input across borders as more of you are joining through online platforms.
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 Prof Moncef MEDDEB 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.
Ladies and gentlemen, we cannot walk alone on this journey, we need to walk with you so we may go further by 2025 and beyond. Always remember the African Proverb which says: “If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together”. I look forward to walking together on this internationalisation journey which has always been very close to my heart. I was once an International Student in the UK, and it was a life-changing experience for me. I hope we can all be able to create those experiences for our university communities.
Thank you so much for your attendance.
Professor Marcus Ramogale
Acting Vice-Chancellor & Principal