Ten years ago when we held the first colloquium at the NMMU change was in the air. The then Vice-Chancellor, Dr Rolf Stumpf concluded his introduction to the colloquium with the following:
“I wish to say, in conclusion, that a merger is a difficult process as I pointed out earlier today and it is clear to me that we will not be able to proceed with our internationalisation activities at the same rate that we have been able to do in the pre-merger days, as we consolidate structures, strategies, establish new cultures, new approaches, but if you think there is a slight lull in our activities, it is purely and only due to the merger. Watch us. We will be back on track in a year or two from now.”
We also prophetically indicated in the Colloquium publication of the 2004 that:
“This colloquium on internationalisation is intended to be the first of a lasting engagement between higher education practitioners and other interested parties on the topic of internationalisation.”
It is envisaged that it will provide a quality forum for all the role players in higher education to debate matters related to the internationalisation of higher education. We also set the goal in 2004 that the colloquia should serve as catalysts for further debate on all campuses and that it also provides an opportunity for scholars to engage through this vehicle in scholarly work that should enhance the internationalisation of universities.
Not only have we published the papers and deliberations of the colloquia but also this event has served as the catalyst that is instrumental in giving shape to the re-thinking of higher education internationalisation. The 2012 colloquium concluded with an agreement that the debate about a future agenda for higher education internationalisation should become a truly global debate. And as such the NMMU was instrumental in assisting
IEASA to host the January 2014 Global Dialogue. This lead to the Nelson Mandela Bay Declaration endorsed by all that participated.
The main thrust of the declaration was that the participants committed themselves to the following to over time:
- Enhance the quality and diversity in programmes involving the mobility of students and academic and administrative staff;
- Increase the focus on the internationalisation of the curriculum and of related learning outcomes;
- Gaining commitment on a global basis to equal and ethical higher education partnerships.
Action six of the declaration focused also on higher education partnerships by stating:
Action 6: A set of International Partnership guidelines shall be developed and proposed for adoption by the NIEA to ensure equal and ethical practices.
The 2014 Colloquium is also focussing on higher education partnerships. It has been and will be one of the most dynamic areas of Internationalisation of higher education. It functions on the cutting edge of constantly changing societies and global geopolitical sways. The words of Grünzweig and Renehart, when they explained higher education internationalisation and all its facets, has particular relevance to higher education partnerships when they indicated that higher education internationalisation has become:
“…the repetition of unquestioned dogmas and the use of inadequately defined terms.”
I hope that this colloquium can contribute to the understanding of higher education partnerships. We again, have a panel of seasoned higher education practitioners and leaders that can provide the guidance needed to deepen the debate and define the concept of higher education partnerships in such a way that the unquestioned dogmas can be turned into clear theories and philosophies that would guide the NMMU in the development of its strategies to develop our global partnerships. I also hope that the debates that will take place will, like in the past, play a role in shaping the national and global debate on this matter.
Dr Nico Jooste
Senior Director, Office for International Education, NMMU