The new director of the International Academic Programmes Office (IAPO), Professor Evance Kalula, says he wants to reposition IAPO in the university environment to better facilitate internationalisation.
Internationalisation, along with the Afropolitan niche, is one of UCT's key strategic drivers. The new focus, says Kalula, will see closer ties forged with other units - particularly faculties - that are involved in internationalisation.
Kalula, who hails from Zambia, says he's had "a bit of a chequered academic history". He studied at four universities, among them the University of London and Oxford, where he was a Rhodes Scholar.
"I came to UCT 21 years ago and worked my way up through the ranks in the research unit, and rose to full professor in the Faculty of Law in 2002.
He held a number of positions in the faculty, including that of deputy dean. His last position there was as Director of Internationalisation.
His non-academic roles included a stint as a member of a commission of inquiry, which looked at freedom of association in Zimbabwe.
"My academic interest is labour law and social security, and I also served as chairperson of the SA Employment Conditions Commission for 12 years, retiring from the post last year."
His abiding passion, though, is internationalisation.
"I want to spend the rest of my UCT career in this field, particularly in realising the university's Afropolitan vision, which means reaching out to the rest of Africa and strengthening our ties with other African universities, all the while maintaining our global reach as Africa's leading university."
Kalula says IAPO has made a great contribution to UCT.
"If you look at our rankings, one of the most important factors in this regard has been our international profile. Since IAPO was established in 2006, it has done loads of work. Its workload has increased, but not necessarily its resources!"
His main objective is not only to maintain IAPO's good work, but also to renew it. He wants to reposition the organisation in the university environment to better facilitate internationalisation.
This, he says, is a growing and more complex area today than ever before. Marketing IAPO will be important.
"Many people do not know what it does, in terms of servicing foreign students." When IAPO was founded in 1996 there were fewer than 200 foreign students at UCT. Today there are over 4 000.
The services IAPO provides include welcoming these students, helping them settle in, and guiding them during their entire stay at UCT.
"We need to liaise much more with other departments involved in internationalisation, including the Department of Student Affairs, to try and 'bring home' internationalisation and ensure that South African students have a sense of what internationalisation is," says Kalula. Internationalisation has dual benefits; students who come to UCT enrich the experience of their South African counterparts.
"As we reach out to the world, we want the world to know that if they want to know anything about Africa, we are the experts."
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