As we wind down for 2020, we acknowledge a year of great challenge to many of our members who have been ill, lost employment and lost loved ones, due to the COVD pandemic. Let us also reflect how, in spite of all, we have also witnessed leadership, courage, innovation and resilience at multiple levels: personally, institutionally, nationally and in international education more broadly. All of this has also seen an increase in active member engagement in IEASA. Let us build on this momentum of 2020 and continue to share our innovation and resilience and support each other in 2021, as we reimagine international education in South Africa.
IEASA’s organisational development for sustainability
Highlights of 2020 include our continued organisational development work, notably the development of IEASA’s first five year strategy and the comprehensive review of the Constitution. We continue to build on the initiatives of 2019, regarding the rights and responsibilities of IEASA office bearers and the development and implementation of a code of conduct and a conflict of interest policy.
Among the specific initiatives of 2020, IEASA reinvigorated our partnership with the African Network for Internationalization of Education (ANIE) and signed a new MOU with them, delivered a joint webinar and a joint virtual IEASA/ANIE conference. IEASA also produced the 19th edition of the much sought after Study SA guide, incorporating a greater diversity of members voices than was previously the case. IEASA also held a series of relevant and well-attended webinars on a range of topics pertinent to professionals working in internationalisation.
Policy framework on the internationalisation of Higher Education in South Africa
On November 6th 2020, the eagerly anticipated release of the Policy framework on International Higher Education was a sector-wide national highlight in internationalisation
(Click here to download).
Mr Mahlubi Mabizela, the Chief Director for University Education Policy and Support in the DHET and the President of IEASA were interviewed by the PIE news when the policy was released and the responses may be viewed in this article: (Click here to view article)
On December 15th 2020, IEASA was delighted to partner with DHET to host the first public engagement webinar, exploring the implementation of the policy framework. In response to prior consultation with IEASA members, there was significant emphasis on explaining the types of joint degrees to be accommodated by the policy.
Mr Mahlubi Mabizela emphasised that the policy framework is intended to be an enabling document, to encourage internationalisation and implored us to think creatively and imaginatively, as we develop and align our own institutional strategies with the policy framework. He continued that we would be expected to include progress on internationalisation in annual reporting to the DHET. Mr Mabizela committed to continuing the partnership with IEASA on the implementation of the policy framework.
The IEASA and DHET webinar engagement on the policy framework for internationalisation of education was an excellent note on which to end my term as President of IEASA and has defined one programme of work for the organisation for 2021.
I thank our other partners Simeka health, Momentum and CompCare for their engagement and active support to IEASA. I thank our colleagues in the Department of Home Affairs for their collaboration and responsiveness to engaging with IEASA on matters pertaining to immigration, that affect international students.
I thank the excellent 2020 Management Council, my very supportive and readily available colleagues on the Executive committee, the engaged Directors Forum, the excellent IEASA office staff and every IEASA member for your valuable contributions throughout 2020. I thank the Network of International Education Association (NIEA) colleagues who have been wonderfully supportive during these difficult times for all international education associations. I’d like to thank Rhodes University, in particular the International Office staff, for their support and last but not least, a huge thank you to my family to whom I owe a lot of time over the next few weeks!
We are still in the grip of the COVID pandemic, and we will be celebrating the end of 2020 differently. However, I trust that you will all do your part to stay safe and to keep those who are more vulnerable around you safe. Within the reasonable constraints of wearing masks, keeping socially distanced and washing and sanitising hands, I hope you will still find a way to relax and rest and have some fun between now and the start of 2021.
Have a wonderful and safe holiday season and come back refreshed for an active 2021 in IEASA, as my dear colleague President Elect, Wiseman Jack takes on IEASA’s leadership role for 2021-2022. I remain on the Council for one more year and promise to support in any way I can as we collectively continue to help IEASA flourish.