About the Research Unit

The purpose of research is to gather data, establish facts, develop new knowledge, improve current practices and inform action and policy making. Whatever we do, without quality research it is difficult to understand where we stand and where we should go. When it comes to higher education internationalisation, South Africa, Africa and the developing world have over the years lacked effective research bodies in this field.

To try to affect change in this area, in May 2014 NMMU’s Office for International Education (OIE) established the Unit for Higher Education Internationalisation in the Developing World. The Unit will research current higher education (HE) internationalisation activities, practices and approaches around the world, specifically in the developing and emerging world. Given South Africa’s position and role in Africa and the BRICS, specific focus will be paid to the African continent and BRICS countries.

The Unit’s research objectives are to conduct research on practices, approaches and theories of HE internationalisation – including internationalisation at home, internationalisation of the curriculum, international partnerships, student and staff mobility and other related activities and practices – and develop new and more equitable practices and approaches appropriate for the developing and emerging world. In addition, the Unit will engage with universities, research institutions, academics, researchers and experts from South Africa, Africa, BRICS and other countries on research projects and research collaboration aimed at the transformation of higher education internationalisation globally.


Dr Nico Jooste (head of the Resarch Unit)

Dr Nico Jooste is the Senior Director of the Office for International Education at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU). He has been in this position since July 2000. He was responsible for the development of the Office as a self-funding entity. The comprehensive internationalisation of the university has been implemented during this period as a strategic imperative of NMMU. Dr Jooste is involved in the re-thinking of higher education internationalisation globally and has helped arrange the Global Dialogue on the Future of Higher Education Internationalisation which was held in January 2014 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. He is currently the President of the International Education Association of South Africa (IEASA). Prior to his appointment at NMMU, from June 1998 to June 2000, he was the Executive Director of the Eastern Cape Higher Education Association. He was the Deputy Registrar Academic from January 1993 and acting Registrar of the University of Fort Hare from January 1995 to December 1996. Dr Jooste was also a senior lecturer in the Department of History and Economic History at the University of Fort Hare from February 1982 to February 1992. His areas of specialisation are the history of the Eastern Cape and South Africa’s international relations during the Cold War.

Contact details:
+27 41 504 2161


Research associates

Dr Savo Heleta
Manager: Internationalisation at Home and Research, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa

Dr Darla Deardorff
Executive Director, Association of International Education Administrators; Research Scholar, Duke University, United States

Professor Vivienne Lawack
Deputy Vice Chancellor: Academic, University of the Western Cape, South Africa

Professor Thoko Mayekiso
Vice Chancellor, University of Mpumalanga, South Africa

Professor Robert Coelen
Stenden University of Applied Sciences, Netherlands