Internationalisation and Multiculturalism - Vol 4

This is the fourth Colloquium in a series that started in 2004. The first Colloquium was on the development of an institutional and national policy for internationalisation. The second in the series addressed the internationalisation of the curriculum, and the third one in 2006 addressed the characteristics of an internationalised university. This year’s topic, as I have already indicated, is on the issue of addressing internationalisation and its effect on multiculturalism.

I wish I could have made the time to listen to some of the presentations on this very crucial topic at the NMMU, namely the issue of multiculturalism and internationalisation. For us, this is probably one of the foremost topics that we need to engage about, and I would like to think, for most South African universities, this is a topic of crucial and vital importance.

Over the years, adding the attendance records together, 140 people from all over South Africa and all corners of the globe have attended these Colloquia. These have included senior managers and academics from a large number of institutions. We have been especially pleased to receive at these Colloquia, colleagues from our partner universities on the continent of Africa. I think these Colloquia have amply demonstrated, and today is another case in point, that Internationalisation is far more than merely having a number of international students on your campus and being able to boast that you have so x-amount of agreements with partner universities. That in my view does not constitute Internationalisation, but one of the outcomes of internationalisation, and outcomes that have to be managed quite carefully so that they do not destroy the true goals and aims of Internationalisation. Internationalisation for the NMMU is far more than an add on, it forms an integral part of the characteristics by which the NMMU wishes to be known. Many of you would know that we have arisen from a merger involving three institutions that commenced formally on the 1st of January 2005, and we are currently busy, now that the bread and butter issues of the merger of the NMMU are more or less behind us, crafting and developing a character, an ethos, and identity for the NMMU as an a institution that has arisen from a merger.

Characteristics one would wish such an institution to reflect managerially, administratively and academically are: flexibility, and to be fully integrated and engaged i.e. in-sync with the community and surrounding environment, where the environment values the university as a partner institution. Internationalisation is another one of these characteristics.

We believe that the NMMU should be a networked institution internationally, and that the way to achieve this networking is through an all encompassing approach to Internationalisation. We do not believe that internationalisation is the job of the international office only, although they are the drivers of our strategies. We believe that internationalisation is all of our jobs at the NMMU, and we believe that in every facet of the institution, we should incorporate the goals and aims of internationalisation. It’s a little bit like transformation and employment equity, although you have distinct offices responsible for each, you can never say that, that relieves me of the responsibility of driving the aims of the institution with regards to those facets, and internationalisation is exactly the same. To be a networked institution internationally means you also have to be a networked institution internally and regionally. You can’t be something internationally that you aren’t within yourself, and at home. Part of the networking involves crossing the divides, such as geographical and cultural divides, and all the other divides that may divide people and institutions from one another. So I’m very hopeful that today’s outcome of the Colloquium will assist not only the NMMU, but other institutions in South Africa that are here, as well as our overseas partners, in adopting a more integrated, a more holistic approach to internationalisation than simply activities that give a flavour of Internationalisation to institutions.

Dr Rolf Stumpf

Former Vice-Chancellor and CEO
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, South Africa

Please Download the full colloquium booklet HERE

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