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GLOBAL FRIENDSHIPS: Some of the 2024 SIAN participants from various countries pictured on campus before the first session.

Forging sustainable partnerships for a brighter future

With the objective of bringing together new and existing partners to network and discuss internationalisation matters, the annual Stellenbosch Academic International Network (SIAN) Meeting took place recently at Stellenbosch University (SU). Over 60 universities from around the world were in attendance. The Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), was represented by Kuda Brandt, a Science and Innovation Communication Specialist in the Directorate of Research, Innovation and Partnerships (DRIP).

In true SIAN fashion, the event was rich in cultural experiences and insightful at the same time. The topics of the sessions covered a myriad of key areas such as How to bring focus in a big partnership portfolio; and Unpacking International Higher Education in Africa.

Dr Nico Elema, director of SU International's Centre for Collaboration in Africa, identified four cornerstones for successful collaboration between African partners. These included context, equitable partnerships, institutional commitment and personal commitment that would drive local research and capacity development in Africa.

NUST and SU enjoy a sound partnership that spans from collaboration on research capacity development, hosting joint research projects, to co-facilitating seminars.

“One of my key take-aways was how to manage partnerships effectively and sustainably, and particularly measuring social impact. I was reminded that it is not only a numbers game. We need to go beyond looking at impact measurement from a quantitative perspective, but specifically from a qualitative lens, and there are various tools that one can use,” said Kuda.

The event concluded with a visit to Ukwanda Rural Clinic, about 100 kilometres from the SU Campus. The clinic established by SU to service Worcester community and to provide students with the skills for rural health care.