University of South Africa: Formal agreements will advance scholarship exchange, cooperation and interaction between Unisa and Ethiopian universities


The University of South Africa (Unisa) operates in Ethiopia as a development partner of the government based on the longstanding collaboration between the governments of Ethiopia and South Africa. Unisa previously signed an agreement with the government to contribute towards high-level human capacity development in Ethiopia. In undertaking its activities, the university has been collaborating with Ethiopian universities in various areas. On 29 August, Unisa signed formal memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with Addis Ababa University (AAU) and Addis Ababa Science and Technology University (AASTU) to take the collaborations to a higher level.

Unisa is the largest comprehensive open distance learning university in South Africa and the longest standing dedicated distance education university in Africa and the world, providing accredited and quality approved teaching and learning, research, innovation, engaged scholarship programmes and offerings to close to half a million students in South Africa, Africa and the rest of the world.

AAU, which was established in 1950, is the oldest and the largest higher learning and research institution in Ethiopia. Since its inception, the university has been the leading centre in teaching-learning, research and community services. In recent years, the university has been undertaking various reform schemes in order to cope with and respond to the fast-changing national and international educational dynamics.

AASTU is one of the public universities of Ethiopia established in 2011 to play as a forefront change agent in the technological transformation of the country by creating strong linkage with industries. AASTU has also a vision to be an internationally recognised Ethiopian hub of science and technology with strong national commitment and significant continental impact by 2030.

The purpose of the agreements signed is to define areas for increased collaboration, African collaboration and scholarship, cooperation and interaction for further promotion of education, science and research in which the universities desire to work together in the future, for their mutual benefit. The universities are keen to advance their national, regional, continental and international interest particularly on advancing the African interest, African Union Agenda 2063, United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, science diplomacy and internationalisation, in general.

The agreements open yet another chapter for close collaboration between Ethiopian and South African institutions on top of the already existing strong cooperation and friendship between the peoples and governments of the two countries. The MoUs were signed by Professor Puleng LenkaBula, Unisa Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Thenjiwe Meyiwa, Unisa Vice Principal: Research, Postgraduate Studies, Innovation and Commercialisation, Professor Tassew WoldeHanna, AAU President, and Dr Abraham Debebe, AASTU Vice-President in the presence of high-level officials of the three universities and invited guests.

In its operation in Ethiopia, Unisa has produced close to one thousand graduates, the majority of whom are doctoral degree holders. The graduates are contributing to the development of the country in various sectors, including high level leadership roles. More than half of the doctoral graduates are university academics. This clearly demonstrates the contribution Unisa has made in strengthening research and teaching capacity of Ethiopian universities. Currently, Unisa is conducting a strategy workshop to draw a roadmap for strengthening and expansion of its human capacity development and science diplomacy activities in Ethiopia and the Eastern Africa region.

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