Dr Vathiswa Papu-Zamxaka, Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Engagement.
Dr Vathiswa Papu-Zamxaka, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research, Innovation and Engagement, who spearheads the Internationalisation efforts speaks on the progress made thus far.
Q: We understand that Universities are becoming increasingly globalised, like businesses. What is your take on internationalisation in universities?
A: The practice of internationalisation fosters an immersive and inclusive academic environment. It goes beyond recognizing an international student's culture. It understands, embraces, and integrates diverse cultures into the educational experience.
Q: What would you say is the 2023 highlight for students regarding internationalisation thus far?
A: 2023 has been good so far! We managed to seal collaborations and partnerships for the following programme:
- Polytechnic University of Valencia (Spain) Student Exchange Program
2 Master’s students participated in the UPV student exchange program (January to June 2023) – Faculty of ICT
- Association of Commonwealth Countries
We are amongst the three South African universities that have been successful in hosting Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarship for incoming international students.
- Fulbright Foreign Scholarship
Master’s scholarship in Film (Scriptwriting and Directing) was awarded to 1 TUT Student to be hosted by New York University in the USA for 2023 – Faculty of Arts and Design.
TUT also has 2 Finalist for the 2024 Fulbright Scholarship (the awards are to be confirmed later in the year). We have been working with the U.S Embassy to promote the Scholarships at TUT to our students and alumni.
- University of Trento (Italy) – Mobility Program
TUT Hosted 1 Masters Student in Engineering from January to June 2023 – Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment.
Q: What would you say were the highlights for staff members?
A: We are proud to announce that we have made great strides from January to June, particularly in the Faculties of Management Science and ICT.
- Joint Research Project under ICSSR (India) and NIHSS (South Africa)
- Joint Research Programme in the field of Social Sciences, TUT hosted 1 Researcher from Central University of Punjab, India from 1 June to 31 July 2023 – Faculty of Management Sciences.
- Furthermore, TUT will be pursuing the signing of an MoU with Central University of Punjab to expand the collaborations.
- Fulbright Foreign Scholarship
- TUT is hosting 1 Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence Program (Incoming) – Faculty of ICT.
- One staff member at TUT was awarded Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence Program (outgoing) – Faculty of ICT.
- CatChain Project – Faculty of Management Sciences
- TUT will be hosting two Researchers under the Catchain Project, from Complutense University of Madrid and from the United Nations University - Maastricht Economic and Social Research Institute on Innovation and Technology, respectively.
Q: Do we have any success stories on funding received this year?
A: Absolutely, we work tirelessly to implement these internationalisation strategies, which include partnering with companies, government and businesses – providing TUT access to more resources, to fund our research and diversify our research areas. We have jointly applied for funding under the following projects with our partner universities, of which we are awaiting feedback:
- Hochschule Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Science (HSWT)
Erasmus + Capacity building in the field of higher education joint funding application submitted with HSWT – Faculty of Science. Feedback on this funding is expected in September this year.
- Erasmus+ Programme KA107 Staff and Student Mobility exchange
Czech University of Life Sciences Prague and TUT Faculty of Science (Department of Crop Sciences) joint application.
- South Africa (SA) - Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) Research and Innovation Grants in Russia
Two funding proposals have been submitted for the JINR Research and Innovation Grants and 1 has advanced to the second phase of assessment. The final outcome and the amount to be granted will be confirmed in 2023.
Q: Dr Papu-Zamxaka, please share with us how MOU’s and MOA’s benefit universities and how many you sealed from January to now?
A: MoUs and MoAs serve as a written agreement of mutually agreed principles, done to guide academic and research activities among the two institutions. The benefits you get through these partnerships enable both undergraduate and post-graduate student exchange programmes, both short- and long-term. Also enables joint research projects, co-supervision of post-graduate students, co-hosting of Post Docs, implementation of Cotutelle programs, joint funding applications as well guest lecturing, to name but a few.
We sealed the following agreements:
- University of Eastern Finland (Finland) - the MoU facilitates combined research development programs (joint research projects, co-publishing), the exchange of staff and students; and the organizing of academic activities (workshops, conferences).
Duration: March 2023 to February 2027.
- The University of Economic and Humanities in Warsaw (Poland) - the MoU supports students and staff exchanges, co-supervision of Masters and Doctoral students and joint research projects.
Duration: May 2023 to April 2027
- Schmalkalden University of Applied Science (Germany) - the MoU serves the purpose of promoting joint research projects, staff capacity building, students exchange programs, joint curriculum development, co-publishing and thus an increase in research outputs.
Duration: February 2023 to January 2027.
- Russian Biotechnological University (Russian) - The MoU facilitates co-hosting of Post-Doctoral fellowships and co-supervision of students, joint research projects, students and staff exchanges, co-publishing in the field of applied sciences.
Date: March 2023 to February 2027
Q: Other partnerships in the pipeline?
A: Of course, TUT’s current collaboration agreements include countries such as Sweden, Poland, Germany, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Russia, Ireland, Australia and the USA. We are also looking at expanding our collaborations within the African continent and the SADC Region.
We have MoU’s and partnerships that we are currently discussing with the Universitatea Alexandru Ioan Cuza din Iași (Romania), Jonkoping University (Sweden), Democratic Republic of Congo Brazzavile and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Sweden) to name a few.
Q: Parting shorts,
Dr?We continue to work determinedly to implement internationalisation strategies aimed at promoting international student recruitment and mobility as the central tools of contemporary universities operating in a global and competitive context. We are equally excited about future prospects regarding our internationalisation efforts and industry connections to position our university internationally.