University of Pretoria: University of Pretoria students return home from US exchange programme

For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, University of Pretoria (UP) students and alumni went on the annual exchange programme between UP and Fordham University in New York, US.

Launched in 2007 by the late Emeritus Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the UP-Fordham exchange aims to teach delegates about corporate life in New York. During the five-week programme, 15 students, staff and alumni visited US-based companies such as Goldman Sachs and Bloomberg, and the Nasdaq stock exchange.

Vusi Maupa, UP alumnus and senior policy analyst at National Treasury, joined the programme to learn more about financial and economic risk.

“This programme far transcends the traditional classroom pedagogy,” Maupa said. “We had immeasurable privileges such as interacting with senior executives, which allowed us to gain tremendous insight into [their work]. Before the programme, I had limited knowledge of strategic financial management and political risk analysis. I am now confident with my understanding and knowledge of these subjects. I will be using the knowledge and skills gained in my professional work.”

UP econometrics student Yuvana Jaichand was also part of the cohort. She is working towards becoming an econometrician or data scientist.

“I saw this programme as an opportunity to experience the world in a new light and to broaden my knowledge beyond that of an academic environment,” she says. “Fordham provided me with the opportunity to experience New York, which is known by many as the financial hub of the world. It is interesting to see how they manage to manoeuvre challenges and how they come up with various creative solutions to market gaps. It was surprising to see how big firms and companies do not have it figured out all the time and how they learn as they progress.”

The partnership between Fordham and UP has expanded to include the Ubuntu programme, a semester-long student exchange for undergraduates.

“This programme represents one of the focal points of Fordham’s internationalisation efforts,” said Dr Booi Themeli, Director of the programme and an Associate Professor of Economics at Fordham University. “It continues to provide opportunities to South African and Fordham students to study in South Africa and the US, thus enabling them to gain an understanding of other cultures that are important in their chosen fields of study. In addition, the programme is in line with Fordham’s mission to contribute to the economic development and social transformation of South Africa and the rest of the African continent.”