(Published - 3 November 2018)
An esteemed Norwegian delegation, including Minister of Research and Higher Education Iselin Nybø, met with leadership from the University of the Western Cape on Thursday. The visit was geared at strengthening Norway’s ongoing higher education and research collaboration with UWC. Among the items listed on the agenda were research topics, international student mobility and future collaborations.
The Minister’s high level delegation will also visit other South African institutions and government departments.
In 2015, according to the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, the government presented the Panorama strategy which was designed to strengthen cooperation in higher education in six countries, including South Africa. A 2018 document compiled by the Research Council of Norway summarised the status of research and higher education cooperation with South Africa.
Some of the highlights from that document include the facts that South Africa:
Is the most popular study destination in Africa and the 14th most popular destination in the world;
Has reported that 45% of its researchers are women;
Has 1-million students enrolled at public universities;
Has tripled its black PhD candidates in the last 10 years; and,
Has more than doubled the number of doctoral degrees from 2009 to 2016.
“South Africa is a major economic hub in Africa and one of Norway’s most important bilateral partners outside Europe,” the report noted. In addition, it highlighted that South Africa is “home to the majority of the African continent’s top-ranked universities, which in some cases are ranked higher than Norwegian ones”.
UWC has been called an “important” Norwegian partner and the University is hosting a health seminar planned by the delegation for all its South African collaborators.
At the meeting with UWC leadership, Minister Nybø said their goal is to improve higher education in Norway and improve student mobility. “We have a long-term goal that 50% of Norwegian students should take part of their education abroad. Today, only approximately 17% of our students are exchange students,” said Minister Nybø.
Already there are many Norwegian exchange students in South Africa, and she said they welcome South African students to study in her country. This, she said, would ensure the exchange of knowledge and culture, and it will ultimately be beneficial for tertiary institutions.
Professor Pamela Dube, UWC Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Student Development and Support, spoke about all the initiatives UWC has put in place to assist and develop students. She highlighted mental health wellness and student career counselling. “There is a lot of discussion about the Fourth Industrial Revolution and how we are preparing students for that,” said Professor Dube.
Professor Lawack, UWC Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic, stressed the importance of excellence in learning and teaching. “We have a strong focus on making sure that the kind of students that we develop here are locally and globally engaged,” said Professor Lawack.
And UWC Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, Professor Josè Frantz, said her office is dedicated to driving not only student, but international staff mobility, too. UWC has strong historical links of solidarity with Norway which date back to the anti-apartheid struggle.