A delegation of students and staff from the University of Mumbai (UM), India, visited Unisa as part of the Unisa-UM Gandhi Inspired Student Exchange Programme. Unisa hosted the delegation from 21 October to 27 October 2012.
Ms Siza Magubane, Director: International Relations and Partnerships, said that this is a continuation of the initiative which started in 2011 and the second visit to Unisa by the University of Mumbai. “The first visit coincided with the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi,” said Magubane. ” In return, a delegation of Unisa students and staff visited Mumbai at the end of January 2012.”
The current delegation consisted of 3 staff members and 14 students, all in the economics and management fields of study. “The delegation included Ms Payal Shreegopal Bhattad, the only undergraduate student in the delegation. Payal is a visually challenged student and an Indian National Swimming Champion,” said Magubane.
Magubane said that she hopes that this will develop into a flagship programme for Unisa. She also said that she was confident that it will assist Unisa with the training and development of students and staff to attain higher degrees, and advance collaborative research leading to research and innovation and publications.
Mr Tshepo Raseleka, former National Representative Council member, who went to Mumbai as part of the exchange programme, said, “The Gandhi Inspired Exchange programme gave us an opportunity to experience the deep spirituality and work ethic of our Indian counterparts in Mumbai earlier in the year.” He added that it was a privilege to welcome and host the brilliant minds and humble souls who form part of this year’s delegation from the Mumbai University Business Schools. “We hope that the engagements and lessons learned from the interactions we have had, lead to the implementation projects that are sustainable and result in the socioeconomic development of both our countries.”
Prof Kobus Wessels, Academic Support Unit, said that as a result of this visit he anticipates collaboration in research. “Our view is that instead of going to Europe for collaboration, let us explore Brazil, India, China and South American (BRICS) countries. South Africa and India have distinct similarities.”
Dr Stephen Da Silva, a UM representative, said that with this visit they wish to close the gap between South Africa and India. “Unisa, being an Open Distance Learning institution, has done a great deal in making sure education reaches ground level,” he said. Da Silva said that there are four papers that have been identified where there could be collaboration in research:
- Gandhi philosophy and higher education
- Gandhi philosophy and management education (Gandhi the CEO)
- Entrepreneurship in South Africa and India
- Social fabric and challenges in both countries
*Written by Trevor Khanyile