Rhodes University’s International Office recently hosted the International Education Association of South Africa’s (IEASA) Director Forum, the advisory body of IEASA. It was the first face-to-face event of the year of IEASA’s silver jubilee.
The substantive inputs to the Director’s Forum included: an opening address from the Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sizwe Mabizela; an update of IEASA activities and plans from the IEASA President (2023-2024), Dr Lavern Samuels; a national review of the current medical aid offerings for international students from all medical aid companies, by SIMEKA Health Consultants; and a presentation of the immigration issues facing international students and the negative impact on the sector by IEASA President (2019-2020), Ms Orla Quinlan. Ms Quinlan is also the Director of Rhodes University’s International Office.
The Forum also hosted a constructive engagement with Mr Phindiwe Mbhele, Director of Corporate Accounts at the Department of Home Affairs; a presentation on Universities South Africa’s (USAf) activities in internationalisation by USAf representative Ms Janet Van Rhyn; and a presentation from IEASA President (2021-2023), Mr Wiseman Jack, on IEASA’s role in positioning South Africa, as a destination for international students. The preliminary research results on the capacity of International Offices in South Africa were also shared for discussion by Ms Quinlan.
Professor Nonceba Mbambo-Kekana, Director of International Affairs at the University of Limpopo, shared an initial analysis of the contemporary burning issues at the institutional, national, regional, continental and global levels affecting internationalisation in South African Universities. Professor Mbambo-Kekana also facilitated a second discussion on the proposed solutions that the IEASA Council would be requested to take forward.
Dr Samuels, Director of International Education and Partnerships at the Durban University of Technology, stated: “Looking forward, IEASA will host its Silver Jubilee conference from 23 to 25 August 2023 in Durban. We expect attendance by leaders in our sector and several delegations of Vice-Chancellors from other countries. It will also involve several side events.”
According to Ms Quinlan, IEASA is also co-hosting a Global Leadership Forum in International Higher Education with the Association of International Education Administrators (AIEA).
“A celebratory evening for IEASA Silver Jubilee, held at Eden Gove, provided an opportunity for the Deans, Directors, Senior Academics, the Internationalisation Committee and colleagues working closely with the International Office to meet the IEASA Director’s Forum,” explained Ms Quinlan. “We opened the invitation to all staff in the University who wished to engage with this group.”
The celebratory event featured the sounds of marimbas and other traditional African instruments from the International Library of African Music (ILAM). The Directors attending the Forum had visited ILAM earlier in the day. They were treated to an informative tour and were even allowed to learn a simple tune on the marimbas.
During the formal IEASA meeting and the subsequent celebratory evening, Dr Samuels thanked Rhodes University for hosting the first face-to-face celebration of IEASA’s silver jubilee in 2023. “This was a memorable first visit to Rhodes University. I was impressed by the campus, the beautiful buildings and the excellent hospitality we experienced throughout the IEASA Directors’ Forum. I look forward to further future engagement,” Dr Samuels said.
According to Shernice Soobramoney from the North-West University, the Library facilities for the hybrid meeting were top class, and the organisation and “attention to detail was perfect”.
“I loved how easy it was to walk from the accommodation to campus and not have to organise transport,” shared Mrs Tohiera Bagus, the IEASA manager, who lives in Johannesburg.
Finally, Forum attendees were wholly impressed with our student body as well. “The students were so friendly and helpful when we asked for directions,” Mrs Jeanne Niemaan from the University of the Free State said.
For more information about Rhodes University’s engagement with IEASA over the last 25 years, see: https://www.ru.ac.za/latestnews/rhodesuniversityreflectsonitscontributiontotheinternationaleducationas.html