The Higher Education and Society Colloquium

Universities are often perceived by many as ivory towers disconnected from the communities and the rest of society. It can be argued that internationalisation is a bubble within the higher education ivory tower, often even further distanced from the ‘real world’.

Are we engaging, connecting and integrating with the societies we are part of? How do we break out of the bubbles and silos? How do we think differently about higher education and internationalisation and their roles in making the world a better place while being immersed and engaged with the ‘real world’ around us? How to link the local and the global in practice? How to link the academia, policy makers and society?

This colloquium will critically debate higher education’s role in the society – the immediate surrounding, the country where the university is located, as well as the region and the world. The colloquium will also discuss the future roadmap for higher education and higher education internationalisation in a world full of polarization, uncertainty and division.

The 2018 Family Week Colloquium signals the end of an era for Nelson Mandela University’s internationalisation journey. When I was appointed the founding Director of the International Office in 2000 at the then University of Port Elizabeth, one of the goals set by the university council was to:

Integrate an international dimension into the core business of the university through internationally focussed education-related activities, technical assistance and cooperation with the university’s publics and international students, staff and institutions.

The first document developed to guide internationalisation of the university did not only provide for an agenda to internationalise the university but also provided a long term vision that attempted to link the university with the world and hinted that it should be developed into a space that would provide intellectual leadership in higher education and its societies. This was clearly stated in the last paragraph of the first Internationalisation Policy document:

The dawn of a new era in the political history of South Africa coincided with the awakening of the network society that is dominating the social reconstruction of world history. This new emerging global social order has fundamentally altered the way in which higher education institutions conduct business. The establishment of a network of global links between the university and other institutions and the subsequent interaction between staff and students should enrich individual experiences and also fundamentally change the way in which we interact with the network society.

A further development of the university’s internationalisation footprint was the introduction of the Colloquium Series on Internationalisation. From the outset the broader society was integrated into the debates and the topics discussed.

This year is no different and it is envisaged that this colloquium would provide new insights into what would be demanded from higher education institutions to become the spaces that translate the global to the local and vice versa.

May this colloquium be a memorable event that will provide the necessary vision and guidance to those that will be tasked to continue the internationalisation journey, here and elsewhere. This is a journey that asks from universities to continuously re-invent themselves. The colloquia in the past eighteen years provided the necessary guidance to a future where internationalisation of Nelson Mandela University can only flourish and continue to provide leadership to local and global communities.

Dr Nico Jooste

Senior director: Office for International Education
Nelson Mandela University

Please Download the full colloquium booklet HERE

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