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South-North knowledge partnership further strengthened by Unisa/GBFE agreement

The recent extension of a long-standing collaboration agreement between Unisa and the Gesellschaft Fűer Bildung und Forschung in Europa E.V. (GBFE) will see the two entities optimising their relationship, especially concerning student and staff exchanges, decolonisation research and academic publishing.


Back: Mariana Winter, Liaison Officer, GBFE; Prof Dr Hans-Georg Wunch, Board member, GBFE; Prof Thenjiwe Meyiwa, Vice-Principal: Research, Postgraduate Studies, Innovation and Commercialisation, Unisa; and Prof Solomon Magano, Acting Vice-Principal: Institutional Development, Unisa
Front: Prof Dr Volker Kessler, Dean, GBFE; and Prof Puleng LenkaBula, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Unisa

The GBFE is a European network of twelve theological institutions in Denmark, Germany, Norway, Russia and Switzerland. The network promotes international studies and research plans in various disciplines at master’s and doctoral level.

Prof Puleng LenkaBula, Unisa Principal and Vice-Chancellor (VC), hosted a signing ceremony between Unisa and the GBFE on Wednesday 25 October 2023, to further concretise a collaboration that dates back to 2007. This was a renewal of an agreement that was signed in 2021, now extended for another five-year duration.

"Our journey together has been so long, that any possible separation should not be considered," said the VC. "Unisa and the GBFE can only reignite their past collaborative flames." LenkaBula emphasised the importance of optimising this relationship for the benefit of Global South – North research and collaboration, particularly for the principles of social justice and ensuring that science is strengthened, and Artificial Intelligence and ICT research are enhanced.

Prof Solomon Magano, Acting Vice-Principal: Institutional Development at Unisa, expressed his delight at the continuation of this impactful partnership.

Prof Thenjiwe Meyiwa, Vice-Principal: Research, Postgraduate Studies, Innovation and Commercialisation at Unisa, highlighted the strategic position of Unisa in advancing postgraduate studies, entrepreneurship research and innovation, and academic publishing.

Prof Zethu Nkosi, Executive Dean of Unisa’s College of Human Sciences (CHS), indicated that she is looking forward to a productive relationship with the GBFE, after enriching discussions have begun to ensure that there is reciprocal beneficiation. She was supported by Prof Thinandavha Mashau, Deputy Executive Dean of CHS, who indicated that their further deliberations will engage on, amongst others, students and staff exchanges, decolonisation research and publication.

This collaboration covers tuition and research for honours, master’s and doctoral students in Germany who are enrolled with the GBFE but registered with Unisa as full Unisa students. In addition, the collaboration has seen an exchange of academics from both institutions, joint research and publishing.

More discussions will be held to explore additional areas of collaboration linked to Unisa’s ten catalytic niche areas to enrich the agreement further, which will be captured in an addendum.  

* By Khomotso Mabusela, Collaborations Officer, Internationalisation and Partnerships, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2023/10/31

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