United States Embassy, University of Pretoria, and Rutgers University–Newark Launch $500,000 Grant to Strengthen United States-South Africa Higher Education Network
The United States Embassy, University of Pretoria (UP), and Rutgers University–Newark (RU-N) officially launched a $500,000 grant on Sept. 29 that will further strengthen and support the United States-South Africa Higher Education Network (US-SA HEN).
The US-SA HEN is a consortium of higher education institutions in the United States and South Africa that was founded in 2018 with funding from South Africa’s Department of Higher Education and Training to promote exchanges, collaborative research, and other partnerships. The current managing partners of the US-SA HEN are UP, RU-N, and the University of Venda.
Through the University Capacity Development Programme, the Department of Higher Education and Training aims to support student and staff development by way of exchange programs, with a strong focus on growing the doctoral candidate pool in South Africa.
“We welcome the good news of being awarded the University Partnerships Initiative grant and we thank the United States Embassy for its generosity,” said UP Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Tawana Kupe at the virtual launch of the grant. “The University of Pretoria values partnerships with institutions both nationally, continentally and globally. Today’s launch is a springboard for demonstrating the impact of partnerships for change; as much as there is a focus on increasing the quality and number of well-rounded doctoral candidates, there is also a parallel focus on adapting traditional educational approaches and developing lasting solutions to some of the challenges that afflict our global society – COVID-19 is an example – all of which can be leveraged through mutually beneficial collaborations and partnerships.”
Through this new grant, the US-SA HEN will engage other institutions of higher education in order to increase the number of staff and student exchanges between the United States and South Africa. It will also implement new collaborative research agendas and enable the network to continue to leverage partnerships with public, private, and nonprofit sector institutions in both countries.
“The United States and South Africa share a long and proud history of academic collaboration and exchanges,” remarked U.S. Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Tibor Nagy during the launch. “Every year the U.S. Embassy funds programs for more than 150 South African students, faculty, and professionals to travel to the United States to increase understanding between our two nations. With this award to support the United States-South Africa Higher Education Network, we reaffirm our commitment to further increase bilateral cooperation and faculty mobility between the U.S. and South Africa.”
This sentiment was echoed by the Chancellor of Rutgers University–Newark, Nancy Cantor. “Our global challenges over the past several months with the COVID-19 pandemic have reconfirmed that now, more than ever, it is essential for higher education institutions such as those engaged in the United States-South Africa Higher Education Network to reassess our roles within our communities and find creative solutions to the evolving dilemmas we face. Our communities are experiencing challenges as pre-existing social inequalities are exacerbated by the current pandemic. As higher education institutions reassess how to best work with their community partners, I see a clear answer, which lies within the initiative we are celebrating here today: collaboration.”
“The grant will assist to strengthen the US-SA Higher Education Network and contribute significantly to the achievement of its objectives,” added Dr. Diane Parker, Deputy Director-General of the Department of Higher Education and Training. “We look forward to wide participation of universities in the activities that the grant will support, in ways that contribute to dismantling historical divides between the historically advantaged and the historically disadvantaged.”
“We sincerely appreciate the good gesture extended to us through this grant from the U.S. Embassy in South Africa,” said the Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Venda, Professor Jan Crafford. “This singular act has demonstrated the genuine interest of the U.S. government in our bilateral partnership as we continue to build capacity for our people and increase cultural exchange and research. The University of Venda is committed to the principle of mutual reciprocity in partnerships and together with other partners would see the actualization of the objectives of the project.”
The two-year grant will focus on four priority areas:
- promoting US-SA faculty and student exchanges;
- facilitating joint research, especially in agriculture, food security, and in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM);
- providing training and transfer skills in all aspects of university administration through subject-matter exchange programs; and
- exploring public-private partnerships, with an emphasis on commercialization, technology transfer, and job creation.