International Academic Exchanges: Collaboration Opportunities

Moderator: Dr Priscilla Mensah, National Research Foundation

Panelist: Prof Kingsley Ayisi, University of Limpopo

Panelist: Mr Mervin Bakker, Dutch Organisation for Internationalisation

Panelist: Dr Anja Hallacker, German Academic Exchange Service – DAAD

Panelist: Prof Stefaan Slembrouck, University of Ghent


Germany, the Netherlands and Flanders (Belgium) are only three of the countless countries that offer students from South Africa and elsewhere on the continent the possibility of studying abroad. Be it for a semester, an academic year or a longer period, various national and European programmes exist that can help students with international aspirations realize their dream. In the field of research, exposing one’s concepts, methods and results to an international audience of peers is not only beneficial, it is more and more proving to be indispensable. The thematic session that the three organisations are tabling, will touch upon the possibilities that these three countries have an offer for international exchanges, both from or to (South) Africa. It will highlight which fields are marked as fields for cooperation. In addition, it will highlight the bilateral agreements in the field of science and technology that lay the foundation for international cooperation accross the continents. However, the very notion of international exchange programmes can raise some questions. How does one benefit from this international experience? Does the risk exist that the best students and academics leave the country to never return? Do the exchange programmes only reinforce the already strong students and institutions? What programmes exist with previosuly disadvantaged students and/or institutions? How can international exchange programmes help to raise awareness about the importance of science when the best students leave the country?These questions and others should not be avoided during the session, in fact, they should be the main topic of the session.


Dr. Priscilla Mensah, National Research Foundation,South Africa

Dr Priscilla Mensah joined the National Research Foundation in 2015 and is Director in the Institutional Engagement and Partnership Development Directorate. She holds MSc and PhD degrees in Chemistry from the University of Cape Town. Prior to this she served as Deputy Director of the Postgraduate School at the University of the Free State and was recipient of the 2013 HELM (Higher Education Leadership and Management) LEAD Fellowship. She relishes the role that her current position provides to make significant contributions to transforming South Africa’s research workforce.


Prof Kingsley Ayisi University of Limpopo

Manager: Risk and Vulnerability Science Centre (RVSC) & Local Coordinator of the UL-Flemish (Belgium) Interuniversity Council (VLIR) Programme at the University of Limpopo, South Africa. The centre is established to conduct research in global change, build capacity and generate information for users and policy formulation. Kingsley is a Crop Ecologist by profession and a product of the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, University of Minnesota, USA where he obtained his MSc Degree (Crop Physiology) and PhD in Agronomy (Crop Ecology). He has minor programmes in Soil Science and Agricultural Economics. Kingsley has also served as an external examiner for several universities in South Africa and Australia. He is currently involved in Global Change Research at the University of Limpopo involving Staff, Students, Government Departments and Local Communities. The research specifically examines whole system biological interaction in the agro-ecosystem focusing on resource use efficiency on farmers’ fields for improved biological productivity and food security. He has rendered several consultancy services to the National and Limpopo government, trained several postgraduate students. In addition, he has over 70 journal, conference and book publications.


Mr Mervin Baker, Dutch organisation for internationalisation in education – Nuffic

Mervin Bakker started his new role for Nuffic’s Netherlands Support Office (Neso) in Pretoria as Regional Director for Southern Africa on 1 August of this year. From 2011 until August 2017 Mervin was based in Jakarta (Indonesia) as Regional Director for the Neso offices in Southeast Asia. Nuffic is the Netherlands’ organisation for internationalisation of education. Before joining Nuffic Mervin has been employed in various international roles at the University of Amsterdam, for an education agent in Bangkok (Thailand), and in a student related business in Utrecht (the Netherlands). He holds an MSc in International Economics & Economic Geography from Utrecht University and an MBA in HE Management from UCL’s Institute of Education, London.


Dr. Anja Hallacker, German Academic Exchange Service -DAAD

Dr. Anja Hallacker, Director DAAD Southern Africa, had been the managing director of the Graduate School for Literary studies at Freie Universität Berlin from May 2014 to October 2017. Before that she was heading the DAAD-Office in Pune, India and an Interdisciplinary Research Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies in Berlin.



Prof Stefaan Slembrouck University of Ghent

Prof Slembrouck of the department of Linguistics of the Ghent University in Flanders, Belgium, has been working on Institutional University Cooperation and Linguistic Citizenship with the University of the Western Cape (UWC) for years. The Linguistic Citizenship project aims to explore further the notion of Linguistic Citizenship as a means of understanding and promoting more participation and capturing the experiences, interests and concerns of the disadvantaged and diverse multilingual populations primarily of the geopolitical South. The project takes as it overall objective the development of a theory of language politics adequate for diverse and transforming societies.

His research at the Ghent University concentrates on the role of interaction and communicative practices in the construction of institutional categories and identities, with particular reference to the domains of administrative practices, social welfare (esp. child welfare and protection), education and health. In recent years, my interest has extended to addressing the implications of globalization-related and migration-affected multilingualism for the functioning of institutions.

From a theoretical-methodological point of view his work covers (i) the nature of discourse and spoken interaction, (ii) the relevance of conversation analysis, linguistic ethnography, ethnomethodology, pragmatics and the work of E. Goffman for the empirical study of recorded interaction in institutional contexts, (iii) the interface between social theory and language study and (iv) the globalization of language practices and the sociolinguistics of (urban) multilingualism.

By | 2017-11-30T08:07:27+00:00 October 6th, 2017|