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From 19 to 23 March the ACA Secretariat team was in Cape Town as a partner in two international projects. One of them is IMPALA, a capacity-building project involving nine partners from Europe and South Africa. ACA’s role in IMPALA is mainly related to the preparation and organisation of a number of study visits aimed at sharing experiences and practices in strategic internationalisation, and facilitating cooperation between South African and European partner universities. The second project ACA is part of is Study in Europe (full name “Enhancing the Attractiveness of European Higher Education in the World”), which focuses on the global promotion of Europe as a study destination. Within the project ACA has set up and runs a network of European Higher Education Experts (EHEEs) in five countries, one of which is South Africa.
The IMPALA consortium organised a Training Week in Cape Town, which consisted of 3-day workshops and a preceding one-day conference on internationalisation. ACA Director and Deputy Director took part as speakers in the conference, whereby they addressed the existing research and debates on the internationalisation of the curriculum, and discussed the impact of internationalisation on South African higher education. One of the key speakers was Chief Mabizela of the DHET (Department for Higher Education and Training), who discussed the upcoming national framework for internationalisation. The event targeted 130 staff of international offices and the leadership of four South African partner universities (UL, Univen) and had as its objective exchange of experiences in internationalisation activities between European and South African partners and equipping workshop participants (IRO staff at the four South African universities) with the know-how and competences in internationalisation, namely Internationalisation of the Curriculum, setting up summer schools, mobility-related practices, and project writing and management. The Training Week also included a preparatory meeting with senior university leadership to plan the site visits to Europe that will take place at the end of June.
On this occasion, ACA Project Officer and partners from the universities of Venda and Limpopo presented the results of the mapping survey they conducted with an aim of identifying strategic approaches to internationalisation at the 26 public universities in South Africa.
During the same week the ACA Secretariat also hosted a two-day seminar for the South African network of European Higher Education Experts (EHEEs) as part of the Study in Europe project. The participants, just like last year, were representatives of international offices at several South African universities, whose work mainly involves the promotion of exchanges and study abroad opportunities and whose role in the project is to share information on study opportunities in Europe, i.e. the Erasmus+ programme countries. The experts in the South African network are:
· Alison SIMONS, University of the Witwatersrand
· Refilwe MOLEYANE and Martina MOSS, Central University of Technology, Free State
· Matome MOKOENA, Cape Peninsula University of Technology
· Chevon JACOBS and Zenzele MDLETSHE, University of the Free State
· Rudi VAN DER MERWE and Nicholas ALLEN, North-West University
· Sarah VAN DER WESTHUIZEN, Stellenbosch University
· Erin PIENAAR and Melissa ABRAHAMS, University of Cape Town
· Cornelius HAGENMEIER, University of Venda
This was the second such seminar hosted in South Africa and while the first one, organised in February 2016, was to inform EHEEs about the Study in Europe project and provide them with the material for their engagement in the network of Study in Europe ambassadors, the purpose of the second seminar was to share experiences of EHEEs during the first year of their involvement in the network and lessons learned in the project vis-à-vis information sharing on study opportunities in Europe.
The participants also had the opportunity to share their personal and institutional experiences during the #feesmustfall student protests that shook higher education in the country and significantly disrupted the work of the majority of the country’s universities. During the seminar, the discussions centred on cooperation opportunities between universities in South Africa and Europe, as well as the opportunities for wider cooperation under the EU-funded programmes such as Erasmus+ and Horizon2020. The ACA Secretariat would like to thank all the participants for their active engagement in the seminar and on the project, and invite all the interested universities and promotion agencies in Europe to contact us if they would like to get in touch with the experts in the South African network.