NWU Colloquium on Internationalisation and Social Cohesion
The Mafikeng Campus of the North-West University (NWU) recently hosted a colloquium with the theme “Internationalisation and Social Cohesion”, with a specific focus on the social and institutional experiences of international students and minority students.
Facilitated by Prof Lumkile Lalendle, vice-rector, the colloquium took its cue from global trends. According to these trends, higher education institutions are aligning their current institutional policies and frameworks and creating a global academic community wherein students and staff are able to contribute positively to international knowledge generation. These institutions are also creating a framework wherein ideological exchanges, networking opportunities, and the fostering of partnerships enable collaboration from across the globe.
During his address, Mr Mhlophe Keebine, campus lecturer and speaker at the colloquium, shared his view point on the prospective advantages that are created by the institutionalisation of higher education, including among others creating a global learning experience with outward, inward and virtual mobility for university students, cultural immersion, language acquisition and international interaction.
Internationalisation, when done correctly, could see many positive contributions to the African, if not global, higher education system, said Mr Keebine. “This includes global intercultural engagement (empathy, sociability and sensitivity to all forms of diversity and the plurality of language), global social responsibility (commitment to addressing global issues and inequalities), as well as the impact on cultures and a wider vibrant society.”
Dr Miranda Mgijima, director for internationalisation, gave a detailed presentation on how the campus and the whole NWU aim to achieve its internationalisation objectives over the next 10 years.
In the discussions led by student facilitators, attending international and minority students voiced their concerns on some of the shortcomings of the International Office. They felt that, since they regard the office as a first contact point for all international students, it should be fully and efficiently equipped to create programmes aimed at the integration of international students.
One participant in the dialogue stressed the need for funding for international students, especially those whose qualifications will eventually address critical skills needs.
Dr Mgijima also mentioned a two-day conference on internationalisation and other sub-topics related to the subject, earmarked to take place from 12 to 13 May 2017. “I hope that students will take part in this event and engage with the content delivered - not only to get a better understanding from an institutional perspective, but also to get a sense of what internationalisation exactly entails and what role they can play in this global standardisation endeavour,” she commented.
“The campus is committed to creating a conducive and responsive environment that encourages quality teaching and learning; an environment that fosters a culture of ownership among students of this university, as well as one that creates a sense of belonging among all NWU stakeholders. One of the ways in which we have strived to achieve this is by funding deserving students through the rector’s office. This resulted in a large number of students, international and local, receiving funding to continue their studies,” concluded Prof Lalendle.
Attendees of the colloquium.