TAKING VUT’S INTERNATIONALISATION VISION TO A GLOBAL STAGE
By: Qhawekazi Memani – 30 August 2023
Vido Kungune and Dr Nico Jooste a seasoned higher education internationalisation practitioner and a former ED of International Relations at Nelson Mandela University
The Vaal University of Technology’s (VUT) Internationalisation Department made an indelible mark at the recent gathering of academic minds from around the world – the International Education Association of South Africa (IEASA) Conference that took place from 22 – 25 August 2023 in Durban, KwaZulu Natal.
Described as a convergence of perspectives, a meeting of scholarly spirits, the three-day dialogue was themed: “Looking Back and Looking Forward”.
Representing VUT at this gathering, was Mr Vido Kungune, the Acting Director of Internationalisation, along with capable Internationalisation Officers, Mses Delsile Mabuza and Lydia Mosese.
According to Mr Kungune, as a proud member of the association, VUT’s presence added a distinctive flair to the global discourse on internationalizing higher education. He explained that the conference symbolized a tripartite vision: reflection on the strides of internationalizing higher education, understanding its present facets, and peering with anticipation into the horizon of its evolution. From every corner of the world.
Mr Kungune also said with each passing edition, the IEASA conference has come to symbolize a crossroads of ideas, a marketplace of trends, and an arena for the exchange of perspectives on internationalizing higher education. The corridors echoed with the thoughts of luminaries – Vice Chancellors, Rectors, and Deputy Vice Chancellors from across the spectrum of South African, African, and global institutions. “Their sessions delved deep into the intricacies of leadership in internationalizing higher education, illuminating its profound importance,” he said.
In addition to higher education aficionados, practitioners, and researchers flocked, drawn by the siren call of internationalisation, the conference also attracted a parade of esteemed bodies such as BEM AFRICA / DUNIS, Canadian Bureau for International Education, Centre for Global Engagements (CGE), ELIMU International Education Connections, and many others who all echoed the importance of collaboration, emphasizing the critical role of internationalization in sculpting well-rounded global citizens and positioning universities on the world stage.
Equally, the strategic role of internationalisation emerged as a central refrain which should be done from the top echelons of institutions – a matter, which was emphasised by Professor Bathandwa Mthembu, of the Vice Chancellor and Principal of the Durban University of Technology (DUT) asserting that internationalization should be enshrined in institutional strategy and correspondingly funded.
Moreover, Mr Kungune said the lessons harvested from the conference were bountiful, saying that they extolled internationalization’s role in institution branding, global ranking enhancement, decolonization of higher education, fostering lifelong learning, nurturing student holistic growth, and birthing global citizens. “Amid these reflections, the conference also underscored the potential of digitalization in internationalization, revealing tantalizing glimpses of the Internationalization Management Software. Noteworthy, too, was the conscious stride toward sustainability. The conference eschewed bottled water in favour of purified water dispensers and reusable bottles, symbolizing a commitment to a greener future.”
Interestingly, parallel to this IEASA conference was another academic gathering – the South Africa Sweden Universities Forum (SASUF) coordinators’ assembly where VUT was represented by Mr Siya Kohli, the Manager of Internationalisation and VUT’s SASUF coordinator.
Mr Kungune expressed gratitude to Dr Simphiwe Nelana, the Deputy Vice Chancellor Research Innovation Commercialization and Innovation, and the entire VUT community for affording them the opportunity to partake in this enriching experience. He said that VUT has resolved to nurture its connection with IEASA, pledging to participate in future conferences, webinars, and summits – a testament to their commitment to shaping the future of global higher education.