UP hosts universities from six continents for Worldwide Universities Network AGM

Posted on June 06, 2024

The University of Pretoria (UP) successfully hosted the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) Annual General Meeting, gathering numerous leaders for discussions on policies, networking, and coordinating several business meetings. The AGM took place from 22 to 24 May, marking its return to Africa after nine years.

Additional events coincided with this milestone, including the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) holding its annual Member President Meeting alongside the AGM.

Furthermore, the WUN Presidents Forum 2024, jointly organised with ARUA, focused on addressing global research challenges in an African context. This forum highlighted how research carried out in Africa can illuminate global issues, and stressed the importance of collaboration within a global network like WUN.

The events team at UP's Department of Institutional Advancement organised an impressive WUN AGM Conference Dinner, where students from the Consumer and Food Sciences Department showcased their skills by preparing a delicious meal for guests.

Working together to achieve more

Prof Themba Mosia, Interim Vice-Chancellor and Principal of UP, discussed one of his favourite African proverbs: "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." He said, "The ongoing disruptions and crises that we face on multiple levels, symptomatic of the deep fault lines in the way we live on our planet, are simply too sizeable to be dealt with comprehensively on an individual basis.

"However, when tackled collectively, and through partnerships which pool expertise and resources and foster learning, tangible results become achievable."

Prof Mosia highlighted the tangible outcomes observed through Future Africa, UP's collaborative platform. It brings together diverse stakeholders to pursue four main goals: leading transformative research in Africa, developing research leadership, fostering global partnerships, and promoting a culture of dialogue for change in African research.

He emphasised the critical importance of Africa's future, given its rapidly growing population, which is expected to double by 2050 and could reach four billion by 2100. Africa's youthful population presents a unique opportunity to address both the continent's needs and the global demand for skilled workers.

"We are grateful for the University of Pretoria for hosting us, because an event like this is so important in that it brings together people who have a shared interest in solving big problems," said Prof Peter Lennie, WUN Executive Director. "It is becoming increasingly clear that the big problems are everybody's big problems, and the only way to solve them is by collaborations that are multinational and, indeed, intercontinental.

"So any time you can bring potential partners together to solve problems, where they bring their distinctive cultures and perspectives together, you are likely to make rapid progress. So this meeting was a special for WUN, already a diverse network, to engage more deeply with Africa, in which there are many interesting challenges that are being addressed."

Prof Ernest Aryeetey, ARUA Secretary-General, said this was a fantastic opportunity in alignment with ARUA's values, because it has always stood for collaboration among peers, which made the opportunity to come to Future Africa at UP a great occasion. "It provided us with a platform to make them aware of what we do, and for us to learn from them about what they are doing, but also to agree on a way forward on how we can work together in finding the solution to many of the development challenges that are reaching us. We were very happy to be part of this event, where there were representatives of 23 universities from ARUA, and we look forward to a future in which we can engage with our WUN partners."

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