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Foreword from the Director - Internal Newsletter December 2015

UCT and IAPO had a rather eventful semester since the dissemination of our last newsletter in July. I do not think that anyone could have predicted the scale of the national student protests but it has been a particularly exciting time in our history as a university and as a country. The scope of the student protests signalled a rise in consciousness around many important issues amongst the national student body, and across the world. Wide support was garnered for the students from parents, alumni of various universities, and even supporters from abroad who marched in support. These student movements have shown a tenacity and dedication to their causes and the entire higher education landscape has been changed as a result.

In a meeting with ministers, university vice-chancellors, councils and students at the Union Buildings on the 23rd of October, the South African President resolved to recommend a zero percentage increase in student tuition and other fees for 2016. The UCT Council later confirmed that there will be a 0% increase in fees for academic tuition and housing for all students from the African continent at UCT in 2016. Student-Worker protest action also resulted in a commitment by the university to end outsourcing in the near future. For more information on how the national protest affected the university, please read this message from the UCT Vice-Chancellor (VC), Dr Max Price, here.

When the exam schedule was moved out after the university’s unplanned closure during the student protests, immense pressure was placed on international students whose study visas would have expired before they would have completed their exams. After discussions between the International Education Association of South Africa (IEASA) and the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), a letter from the DHA was issued to authorise the extension of the stay of international students who were affected by the national protests, up until 31 December 2015. This letter allowed Semester Study Abroad (SSA) as well as final year students to complete their examinations in 2015 and then return home. For more information around the visa extensions, please read more here

Owing to the disruption of the examination period by the student protests, the university offered a deferral option for students who felt unable to write exams during the scheduled examination period. As such, a total of 3 332 out of 15 747 undergraduate students deferred their entire exam set to January next year, opting not to write their exams during the November block. Those students who chose to write during November were able to complete their exams with little to no disruption for the most part. An overview is available of how the university adapted its examination processes in the wake of the student protests is available here.

Earlier in the year, the UCT Confucius Institute (which is an important part of IAPO), in collaboration with the Centre for African Studies and the Institute for African Alternatives, hosted a two-day China-Africa Colloquium, entitled Evolving Sino-African Relations, Prospects and Opportunities. Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chair of the African Union Commission, delivered the opening address at the two-day colloquium. Other speakers included the UCT VC, Dr Max Price; Deputy-Vice Chancellors, Prof Francis Petersen and Prof Crain Soudien; Chinese Ambassador to South Africa, Tian Xuejun; Director of the Institute for African Alternatives, Prof Ben Turok; and was chaired by Kgalema Motlanthe, chair of the Institute for African Alternatives Board and former president of South Africa. The colloquium took place during UCT’s Africa Month, in celebration of Africa Day on 25 May, which commemorates the founding of the Organisation of African Unity, now the African Union. For more on the colloquium, follow this link.

The Confucius Institute at UCT, organised a photographic Exhibition of Chinese Teaching at the University of Cape Town in November. The event aimed to showcase the achievements of the five Confucius Institutes in South Africa over the past ten years, to promote traditional Chinese culture, and to strengthen cultural exchanges between South Africa and China. This exhibition occurred just after the Confucius Institute celebrated five years at UCT with a gala dinner. For more on the exhibition, and on the Confucius Institute at UCT follow the link here.

Prof Shengyong Qin and Prof Kalula at the UCT Confucius Institute 5th Anniversary Celebration Dinner

In the effort to bring new impetus to the growing English language learning sector, UCT opened a new English language school; the UCT English Language Centre (ELC), on Hiddingh Campus, through the Faculty of Humanities. The ELC has been operational since 16 November and offers first-rate English language tuition, while simultaneously providing a comprehensive student package that includes accommodation and visa assistance via IAPO. For more information on the ELC, read more here.

Preceding the opening of the ELC, the Short Term International Programmes section of IAPO, in partnership with the UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB) and SCEZONS, hosted senior delegates at the United Nations Leaders Programme under the theme of ‘Leadership for Transformation and Unity Building in the Workplace’ from the 12th-16th of October, 2015. Senior UN Directors from over 20 countries engaged in discussions on critical concerns facing the workplace and the role of leadership. Participants shared their experiences and expertise, facilitated by respected session presenters. For more information, please read more here

IAPO is happy to announce that two of our colleagues received Long Service Awards from the university in 2015. These awards were received by Carol Ojwang and Sharon Turner, for a combined total of over 30 years of service to UCT. They were honoured at an awards dinner on 4 October, 2015. Their excellent service to IAPO in particular has been unparalleled and their expertise adds to our vision to empower internationalisation at UCT. To read more about these awards, please see the article about Sharon Turner here and the article about Carol Ojwang here

Coming up soon in 2016, the UCT Summer School programme kicks off and will now include courses which will explore the histories of Cape Town, South Africa, and Africa, more deeply. Featuring over 30 professors from UCT and around the world, Summer School 2016 has courses to interest every deep-thinking person. For more information, see the Summer School website or follow the link to the IAPO article here

As 2015 draws to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to extend my best wishes to you. May all who celebrate Christmas enjoy the festive season and to all who are able to take a break at the end of the year, enjoy every moment. We will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the inception of IAPO in 2016 so it will be a very special year for us. I hope that you will join us in the celebrations. We will be announcing our plans in the New Year, so please keep an eye on the IAPO website for the latest information.

Kind regards

Prof Evance Kalula 
Director: IAPO and UCT Confucius Institute

IAPO Staff at their 2015 End of Year Function