Virtual Symposium with African Research Universities Alliance

A year on from the successful ‘Capacity Strengthening in Africa’ symposium held in February 2020, we hosted a virtual follow-up symposium entitled ‘Enhancing Knowledge Transfer and Exchange in African HE and Research’, in partnership with the African Research University Alliance (ARUA).

The aim of the symposium was to explore the developments of the last 12 months and to discuss how to build on the links between higher education and industry, which is pivotal for economic and societal development. Over 70 guests from business to academia across Africa and Europe attended the event and engaged in our thought-provoking breakout sessions.

"Our symposia with ARUA have highlighted the importance of trust, listening and equity in developing partnerships.

Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of Glasgow opened the symposium by expressing how proud we are of the strong links across the continent and the work we engage in with African colleagues and institutions: “Whether it is partnering to address the fundamental challenges of our time, deepening our research collaborations, sharing best practice, or exploring how we might work together to leverage support from key funders, there is much potential to broaden how Scottish and African universities work together”.

One of the many examples highlighted is our desire to continue being involved in AFRICO19, a collaborative project designed to enhance genomics capacity in Uganda, the Gambia and Kenya. This project forms part of the University’s research response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Professor Ernest Aryeetey, ARUA's Secretary General delivered an insightful keynote speech on obstacles to research and innovation in Africa. He outlined how the obstacles caused a limited generation of knowledge, and why building global research collaboration could be an effective approach to achieving sustainable development to help deal with the imbalance in knowledge production.

Professor Ernest said: “The University of Glasgow-ARUA joint symposium was very much a success. We were happy to see good representation from both Scotland and Africa. The keynote addresses were very well received by all, and they stimulated good discussion during the breakout sessions. ARUA is very pleased with how the symposium went generally and believes that the event objectives were fully met”.

Professor Paul Garside, our Dean for Global Engagement (Africa and the Middle East) said: “We need to unlearn traditional methodologies and models and be aware of other drivers in Higher Education other than publications. There is a need to reduce bureaucracy and enhance governance in HE which can be helped by industry, who generally have robust and efficient processes.

"Critically, our symposia with ARUA have highlighted the importance of trust, listening and equity in developing partnerships with African institutions and colleagues."