The United States Department of State has awarded a R8.3-million grant to strengthen the US-South Africa Higher Education Network, a consortium of higher education institutions in the two countries.
Through the grant, the network will engage other institutions of higher education in order to increase the number of staff and student exchanges between the nations, a joint statement issued by the US Embassy in South Africa and the University of Pretoria (UP) on Wednesday said.
The United States-South Africa Higher Education Network (US-SA HEN) was founded in 2018 with funding from South Africa’s higher education and training department to promote exchanges, collaborative research and other partnerships.
The network’s current managing partners are UP, Rutgers University-Newark and the University of Venda.
“Today’s launch is a springboard for demonstrating the impact of partnerships for change,” UP vice-chancellor Professor Tawana Kupe said at the virtual launch of the grant.
“As much as there is a focus on increasing the quality and number of well-rounded doctoral candidates, there is also a parallel focus on adapting traditional educational approaches and developing lasting solutions to some of the challenges that afflict our global society,” he added, citing the global Covid-19 pandemic as an example.
The two-year grant will also facilitate joint research, especially in agriculture, food security, and in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and provide training and transfer skills in all aspects of university administration.
According to US assistant secretary for African affairs Tibor Nagy, every year the US Embassy funds programmes for more than 150 South African students, faculty and professionals to travel to the United States to increase understanding between the two countries.
“With this award to support the United States-South Africa Higher Education Network, we reaffirm our commitment to further increase bilateral cooperation and faculty mobility between the US and South Africa,” Nagy added.