The University of Pretoria (UP) and Hokkaido University signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at the office of the Vice-Chancellor and Principal of UP, Prof Cheryl de la Rey, agreeing to promote educational and academic exchange and cooperation between the two universities on 28 August 2016. Hokkaido University was founded in 1876 as Sapporo Agricultural College and was Japan's first institute of higher education to award bachelor's degrees. Based on the principles of equality and reciprocity, each university agreed to make an effort to promote and develop cooperation in terms of joint research, student and staff exchange and the advancement of mutual institutional capacity building. The MOU also stipulates the establishment of academic exchange programmes between the institutions, in order to promote mutual understanding and collaboration between South Africa and Japan and to contribute to the advancement of sciences and learning.
Prof De la Rey mentioned that the UP has long-standing relationships with 49 Japanese universities that have produced more than 200 publications. Several of these publications, especially in the fields of veterinary medicine and engineering, have been published with counterparts from Hokkaido University. Prof De la Rey emphasised that this MOU will not just be a paper document, but will form a real partnership that will be to the mutual benefit of both universities. In response, Prof Keizo Yamaguchi, President of Hokkaido University, expressed his commitment to the promotion of educational and academic exchange opportunities that the MOU will foster. He mentioned that Hokkaido University has 12 faculties with 12 800 foreign students, but that very few are from South Africa. Hokkaido University will endeavour to invite and create more opportunities for students from South Africa. Prof Yamaguchi was accompanied by a delegation of four senior academics from Hokkaido University.
The Minister Councillor in the Japanese Embassy, Mr Shuichiro Kawaguchi expressed the embassy's full support to the University of Pretoria and its Centre for Japanese Studies regarding their endeavour to promote mutual understanding and cooperation between South Africa and Japan. In conclusion, Prof Vasu Reddy, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, mentioned that his Faculty and the University of Pretoria are looking forward to the academic exchange and research opportunities that this MOU will facilitate.
This year (2016) Hokkaido University received five quotas of Japanese Government scholarship, which are allocated to its contracted programme, namely the Study-in-Japan Coordinator Programme of the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and has approached UP to propose one quota for a UP student. After the internal consultation, UP nominate Ms Tanita Reddy as a candidate and her application was successful. Tanita will start her master's degree at Hiroshima University on 2 October 2016.