International community gathers at UCT

16 Feb 2018 - 16:45

Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price speaks at the event on 8 February 2018. Photo Roger Sedres.

UCT Vice-Chancellor Dr Max Price hosted a meet-and-greet for heads of mission from embassies and consulates and some UCT academics at his Glenara residence on 8 February, to give a fillip to the university’s working relationship with the international community.

“UCT is a global university with a distinctly African identity,” remarked Dr Russell Ally, executive director of UCT’s Development and Alumni Department. “Having heads of mission from around the world and particularly from our African continent visit us provides us with an opportunity to share the contribution that UCT is making in research, teaching and learning, strengthen existing partnerships and forge new collaborations.

“It is also an opportunity for the university to acknowledge the significant contributions that our international partners make to the university which enable us to be the leading university in Africa,” Ally added.

Price addressed the audience, discussing some core concerns for universities in South Africa.

The call for free education, political interests and universities’ own internal issues were three issues that Price identified as defining the contemporary higher education landscape. The VC explained the intricacies of the government’s recent commitment to providing fee-free education for students, which would be phased in gradually over the next few years, and explained the impact it could have on students.

Government has gradually cut its subsidy to institutions of higher learning, Price told the delegates, making funding from external sources even more crucial to keep the university functioning in top gear.  UCT already had “tremendous collaboration” with companies and researchers around drug discovery, aeronautics, mining resources, law and constitutions, said Price.

Dr Beata Mtyingizana (left) speaks to the Colombian Ambassador to South Africa, Her Excellency Maria Correa Olarte.

Dr Beata Mtyingizana newly appointed director of UCT’s International Academic Programmes Office, echoed Price’s call for support from the international community.

Higher education, said Mtyingizana, was not an “extra nicety” – it was critical for building an equitable society.

“We depend on our international partners [to help us realise this goal],” she said.

Project leaders from UCT’s faculties of science, commerce, law and the Graduate School of Business (GSB) were in attendance. Professor Les Underhill, of the Animal Demographics Unit, Professor Alan Hirsch, of the Graduate School of Development Policy and Practice, Dr Ada Ordor of the Centre for Comparative law, Professor Jo Wilmshurst of the Department of Paediatrics & Child Health, Professor Anton Le Roex, former dean of the Faculty of Science and now Acting Deputy Vice-Chancellor, and Dr Francois Bonnici of the Bertha Centre for Social Innovation at the GSB were on hand to discuss their work and to network with heads of mission whose interests had been piqued.