ЦУРThe African Network for Internationalization of Education, or ANIE, held its 6th annual conference in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania from 7-9 October 2015. It could not have come at a better time – just a week after ratification of the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, at a meeting of heads of states in New York. It was therefore one of the first events in which the contributions of the international dimension of higher education to the newly launched SDGs were discussed. The conference brought together more than 200 participants from some 30 countries. The delegates included researchers, practitioners, international office directors, higher education leaders, government officials and students. ANIE organised the conference in collaboration with the Research Alliance for Disaster and Risk Reduction of the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, and the Open University of Tanzania.
There was consensus that it would not be feasible to attain the SDGs without the involvement of higher education. The international dimension of higher education – through collaborative research in different fields, capacity building initiatives, cross-cultural exchanges and other mobility outcomes – would be useful in securing the SDGs.
Professor Chika Sehoole, chair of ANIE, reaffirmed the organisation’s commitment to undertaking high quality research and capacity building, and providing stimulating platforms for debates on the international dimension of higher education in Africa.
African universities, which operate under severe resource constraints, were urged to position themselves to play a key role in contributing to meeting the SDGs through partnerships. Higher education institutions should be proactive in partnering with government and industry in their efforts to contribute to the SDGs. Planning should include revision of the curriculum to be responsive to societal needs, a new paradigm of internationalisation of research collaboration, and joint authorship of articles. New forms of training in high level skills at PhD level and collaboration with external institutions were among recommendations made for higher education institutions.
The conference was successful in providing a forum for reflection on progress and challenges of the MDGs, and also ushered in the SDGs as a new development framework for the next 15 years.