Senior representatives from 23 South African Institutions, including vice chancellors and deputy chancellors, representatives from the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the South African Department of Higher Education (DHET), attended South Africa and France Higher Education Week, held in Paris and Mont-pellier from the 27th June to 2 July 2022.
The event was organised by the French Embassy in South Africa in collaboration with Campus France and the National Research Foundation. Professor Tunon de Lara, the President of France Universities, His Excellency (HE) Mr. Tebogo Seokolo, the South African Ambassador to France, and His Excellency (HE) Mr. Aurèlian Lechevallier, the French Ambassador to South Africa, were also present as members of the local French delegation. The primary goal of the event was to strengthen collaborations between the two countries, encourage research productivity, enhance postgraduate research and training, strengthen knowledge exchange and broaden staﬀ and student mobility programs.
The SMU delegation, led by Professor Patrick Demana, Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic and Research, Professor Mapaseka Seheri, Director of Research and Innovation, Professor Larry Obi, Dean of Science and Technology, and Dr. Antonio Lentoor, Senior Lecturer and Interdisciplinary Neurocognitive Scientist from the Department of Clinical Psychology, represented the University on the platform for the governance of higher education institutions in France and South Africa.
The visit played a signiﬁcant role in pursuit of the university’s vision, conceived, among other things, on the necessity of advancing and enhancing internationalisation and strategic partnerships, particularly in research, innovation, scholarship and science diplomacy in key areas of research that highlight SMU’s mission.
Universities such as the University of Portiers, University of Paris Est Centreil (UPEC), University of Paris Saclay, University of Bordeaux and University of Montpellier have been earmarked for potential collaboration to further strengthen SMU’s agenda on internationalisation and strategic research, student and staﬀ mobility. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will be developed for each institution in this regard.
It is important to note that as part of its expansion, SMU is in the process of establishing the School of Veterinary Sciences and the Department of Optometry in the School of Healthcare Sciences. Regarding the latter, possible teaching and learning collaboration with institutions in France, with similar programmes, will be explored and further be considered for international benchmarking following discussion with relevant universities in this regard.