The Education Exchanges Support Foundation, together with the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania to the Republic of South Africa (RSA), on 20–24 February, organised a visit of Lithuanian higher education institutions to this country. The purpose of the visit was to present opportunities for higher education studies in Lithuania to South African students, school representatives and to discuss cooperation opportunities between Lithuanian and South African universities. Jolanta Valiaugienė, Head of the Unit for International Relations of Kauno kolegija Higher Education Institution and Wilfred Ledoux Tchasse Simo, project manager and lecturer of the Faculty of Business, were part of the Lithuanian higher education institutions’ delegation.

The Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania to the Republic of South Africa has been operating for seven years already, but its plans to help develop cooperation between Lithuanian and RSA higher education institutions have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, making this visit very important.

“During the visit, together with representatives from Lithuanian higher education institutions, we had the opportunity to introduce our institutions not only to RSA universities, but also to meet with representatives from schools and participate in a career fair. On the first day of the visit, a meeting with principals of regional schools was held at the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania in Pretoria. Meanwhile, the education fair at King David School in Johannesburg exceeded expectations because of the number of students and parents who gathered and the interest in study opportunities in Lithuania,” says Head of Unit for International Relations J. Valiaugienė.

Every year, higher education institutions in the Republic of South Africa receive more than 4 million applications from students seeking higher education, of which only 163 thousand are accepted.

“A significant number of those interested have Hebrew, German, Dutch heritage and have Lithuanian passports, so their interest in studying in Lithuania was really high. In addition, RSA is an English speaking country, so there is no language barrier to choose study programmes delivered in English. In South Africa, students are starting to focus early on social and exact sciences, so it’s important to know what subjects of study to choose, what requirements need to be met when planning future studies,” shares J. Valiaugienė.

Representatives of Kauno kolegija Higher Education Institution also attended meetings with Pretoria, Stelenbosh and other universities, which are among the top five universities in Africa and among the top hundred universities in the world.

During the visit, the rector of the University of Pretoria, prof. Tawana Kupe, and other representatives who participated in the meetings presented the university as one of the largest study and science centres in Africa. The university has 9 faculties and 72 research institutes and centres, offering 1,108 study programmes. The University of Pretoria has 53,131 students, of whom 3,699 are international students and 3,278 students are studying remotely. The total number of alumni from this university reaches 285 thousand graduates from 118 countries; 94 percent of graduates are employed within a few months after graduation. The tour of the university, whose buildings are located in the territory of the park, was led by volunteers and students of the Tourism and Management study programme.

Rector of the Stellenbosch University prof. Wim de Villiers presented detailed university’s strategic goals: to create knowledge that meets local and global needs. During the visit development of internationality at the university was also presented.

Kauno kolegija Higher Education Institution has previously cooperated with this university. In 2016 Mark Swilling, a professor at this university who is delving into research in the field of sustainable development, visited the Kauno kolegija Higher Education Institution. Representatives from Kauno kolegija Higher Education Institution have also previously visited Stellenbosch University. The university has the School of Data Science and Computational Thinking. It is an interdisciplinary science centre, where data science research is integrated into various study programmes and research areas, a horizontal cooperation between departments is developed.

For more information about the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania to the Republic of South Africa website.

While visiting South Africa, J. Valiaugienė and Wilfred Tchasse also visited Kauno kolegija Higher Education Institution partners, the University of Venda (UNIVEN), located in Thohoyandou.

“We not only met with the heads of the university and study programmes, but also with students who actively participated in international activities. It was nice to meet the lecturers and administrative staff who had already visited Kauno kolegija Higher Education Institution. The mutually beneficial discussion met the expectations, and the strategic directions and needs of the University of Venda in the development of international cooperation were very clearly stated.

The structure of the university, founded in 1982, is very similar to Kauno kolegija Higher Education Institution: the university has four faculties: Faculty of Humanities, Social Science and Education; Faculty of Management, Commerce and Law; Faculty of Science, Engineering and Agriculture; Faculty of Health Sciences. The university offers 36 bachelor degree study programmes. 43 percent of lecturers have a doctorate degree, so scientific activities at the university are actively developed. We have an Erasmus+ inter-institutional agreement between the Kauno kolegija Higher Education Institution and University of Venda in the fields of agriculture, food technology, management and business administration, nursing, and midwifery.

During the visit, we discussed the possibilities of enhancing cooperation by including other areas and preparing a project application. It is interesting that the international partners of the University of Venda in Europe are also partners of Kauno kolegija Higher Education Institution—these are the VIVES University of Applied Sciences in Belgium and the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University in Germany,” says the Head of the Unit for International Relations of Kauno kolegija Higher Education Institution.

Head of the University of Venda’s Centre for Entrepreneurship Shumani Nembudani and Director of the Department of Marketing, Branding and Communication Takalani Victor Dzaga will visit Kauno kolegija Higher Education Institution during the international week, which will take place on March 6–10.