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Wits hosts leaders of Swedish universities

- Wits University

A delegation from the South Africa Sweden University Forum (SASUF) visited Wits as part of the Research and Innovation Week 2023

Thirteen leaders of Swedish universities who account for 90% of the country’s research output, met with the Senior Executive Team on Tuesday, 28 March 2023, to explore new and existing areas of potential collaboration. They then spent the morning on campus, visiting Tshimologong, Wits’ fossil vault, the Gauteng City-Region Observatory, and the Global Change Institute.

The South Africa Sweden University Forum’s visit formed part of its Research and Innovation Week, which focuses on six sub-themes: Climate change, natural resources and sustainability; Education for a sustainable society; Social transformation through change: Knowledge and social development strategies; Health - Understanding the burden of disease in Sweden and South Africa; Sustainable urbanisation, travel and tourism in the 21st Century; and Digital technologies, big data and cybersecurity. 

Members of the delegation were keen to explore synergies and opportunities with their Wits counterparts, and to discuss some of the common challenges faced in both countries.  

“We would like to express our appreciation to Wits University for meeting with us today. We hope to gain valuable insights into the higher education research and innovation landscape, and Wits’ role therein,” said Prof. Anders Hagfeldt, the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Uppsula University, who led the delegation. “We are committed to continue working with South African universities, and to strengthen collaboration based on mutual trust, cooperation and exchange. We would also like to inspire growth in the number of initiatives between our countries.”

Dr Mahomed Moolla from the Strategic Partnerships Office provided an overview of Wits and presented on potential areas of collaboration. Wits co-authored approximately 274 research publications per annum with its Swedish counterparts over the past five years. Wits collaborates most with the University of Lund, Stockholm University, Uppsala University, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Umeå University, and the University of Gothenburg.

Swedish delegation

Wits Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof. Zeblon Vilakazi said that he was glad to cement the relationship with Sweden and others and acknowledged the key role that Sweden and other Nordic countries played in the fight against apartheid. He outlined some of the common areas of collaboration enjoyed between Wits and Swedish academics in areas such as nuclear physics, astrophysics, particle physics, digital technologies, water research, education, medicine, infectious diseases, public health, and archaeology.

“We are pleased to engage with our counterparts from Sweden in these areas, as well as strategic common 21st Century challenges, which we have not yet explored,” said Vilakazi. “For example, there are many common areas on which we could collaborate including in mining, social protection, climate change and migration, amongst others.”

The following universities from Sweden were represented: Uppsala University; Karolinska Institutet; Linköping University; Luleå University of Technology; Lund University; Stockholm University; Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences; Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences; Umeå University; Malmö University; University of Gothenburg; Örebro University; University West; Jönköping University; Karolinska Institutet; as well as the Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education and the Young Academy of Sweden.

About the South Africa Sweden University Forum

The South Africa Sweden University Forum is a strategic internationalisation project uniting 40 partner universities in South Africa and Sweden. The project was launched in 2017 and started running in 2018 with the overall aim of strengthening ties between Sweden and South Africa in research, education and innovation. Since its inception, the Forum has connected more than 3 000 Swedish and South African researchers, teachers, students and university leaders in workshops and seminars. The Forum seeks to address the challenges posed by the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2030. The next phase of the Forum will see it introduce a range of new tools such as grants to develop virtual exchanges, the inclusion of students in all aspects of the partnership and a new, interactive format for bilateral research seminars.