A delegation led by the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of Venda, Prof Peter Mbati, comprising of the Dean of the School of Agriculture, Prof Godwin Mchau, the Director International Relations, Cornelius Hagenmeier and Director Communications and Marketing, Takalani Dzaga successfully accomplished its mission of strengthening the relationship between the University and the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM). It visited the RUFORUM secretariat which is located on the campus of Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda from Monday 16 to Friday 20 May 2016. Univen has become a full member of the RUFORUM two years ago, and the Vice-Chancellor and Principal Prof Mbati serves on the executive board of the organisation.
During the visit, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal had the opportunity to share with the Secretariat of RUFORUM and Vice-Chancellors as well as other representatives of select Ugandan RUFORUM member universities the success story of Univen. He highlighted the exponential increase in research outputs, the University’s financial sustainability, stability, political buy-in, successful linkages and partnerships with other institutions of higher learning globally, including the universities situated in the African continent. “The linkages and partnership have been very strong catalysts for the growth and development of the University of Venda. Arrangements are at an advanced stage to elevate the School of Agriculture at the University of Venda, to the Centre of Excellence. Universities should be seen to be making changes for the welfare of communities within which they operate and the University of Venda is doing considerably well in matters pertaining to Community Engagement”, said Prof Mbati. The Vice-Chancellor’s presentation was very well received and he was commended for his visionary leadership. The counterparts confessed that there was indeed a lot to be learnt from the University of Venda.
The collaboration between the University of Venda and RUFORUM is intended to support the development of a vibrant agricultural sector linked to universities across Eastern, Central and Southern Africa. The member universities partner to strengthen capacity and unlock external funding opportunities to support their work, with a particular focus on training a critical mass of Masters and PhD graduates, who are responsive to stakeholder needs and national as well as regional development goals. During the visit, an exhibition was organised by RUFORUM which presented the strategic approach of RUFORUM towards supporting agricultural research and training in Africa.
The RUFORUM facilitates teaching and research assistantships, it is planned that Univen will in the future host staff members of other RUFORUM member universities as part of the Graduate Teaching Assistantship. The University of Venda will in turn be eligible to send staff for training under the same arrangements. This aspect of the collaboration became formalised through a Memorandum of Understanding, which the Vice-Chancellor and Principal signed with the RUFORUM in the course of the engagement.
On the occasion of the visit to the Secretariat of RUFORUM, the delegation also scoped for the strengthening of Univen’s linkage to Makerere University. The two universities already collaborate particularly in the field of agriculture, Univen’s Center for Excellence in Animal Assisted Reproduction has fostered a linkage with Makerere’s College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources & BioSecurity (CoVAB).
During the visit, further areas for collaboration were explored in high-level meetings with the Makerere’s Colleges of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) and Natural Sciences (CoNAS). Members of the delegation also engaged with the Directorate of Research as well as the International Office and visited select research facilities of Makerere University, including the Herbarium, the Food Technology Laboratory and the Mushroom Training Facility.
Univen and Makerere University look forward to strengthening their successful collaboration. It was agreed that the partnership between the Universities of Venda and Makerere will be formalised during the RUFORUM Biennial Conference that is scheduled to take place in October in Cape Town, South Africa. The primary objective of the conference, of which Univen is a co-host, is to discuss strategies for strengthening the African higher education agricultural education sector and linking them more closely with economic development by actively sharing lessons and experiences including research findings.
This story has been reproduced from: http://www.univen.ac.za/index.php?Entity=c_news&TheS=2013. Univen, a member of the RUFORUM Network.