CIVIS agreement will enhance European-African links

The CIVIS Alliance of European research-intensive universities has launched an ambitious partnership agreement to enhance cross-Mediterranean and African collaboration in higher education. The new agreement will help to further develop many of our existing strong links with Africa.

Laying the foundation for a closer integration between CIVIS members and the African partner institutions, this collaboration will offer a framework for exciting and innovative new opportunities

  • for increased mobility (both physical and virtual)
  • to leverage shared capacities to seek external funding
  • to make a positive social impact on our local communities
  • to find and implement global solutions to the challenges facing humanity.

With a far-reaching agenda over the coming years, CIVIS and its African partners have committed to working together to co-create new educational opportunities via the CIVIS interdisciplinary Hubs. Academics will work collaboratively to develop a range of activities responding to global challenges and underpinned by innovative pedagogies.

"The new CIVIS partnership with six African universities provides another important platform to develop equitable and reciprocal collaborations which are based on mutual trust and respect, as well as appreciating local context", explains Professor Paul Garside, our Dean for Global Engagement, Africa and the Middle East.

"This approach is central to CIVIS, as well as other networks with which UofG engages such as The Guild and ARUA, and particularly important in light of the proposals and actions developed at the recent EU-AU summit."

Professor Zeblon Vilakazi, Vice Chancellor of University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, one of the six African institutions to sign the MoU with CIVIS, commented: "Knowledge is a universal matter and so it is important for Wits University, a research intensive university in South Africa, to be seamlessly connected with the global world of knowledge.

"The CIVIS network is a wonderful way to achieve connectedness between the European Union and African Union in a mutually beneficial way. Wits looks forward to contributing to the ideals of open research for the benefit of society through the partnership with CIVIS."

Deepening African-European science cooperation

The agreement was signed on 11 March, marking the end of the conference ‘New Horizons for the European-African Partnership’, an event co-hosted by CIVIS and Aix Marseille Université.

It also coincided with the publication of a CIVIS position paper calling for a European University Initiative (EUI) which is open to global partnerships and promoting closer research collaboration with African partner institutions. The paper 'Deepening African-European science cooperation by tapping the potentials of European University alliances' puts forward the capacity for EUIs to

  • act as a catalyst for challenge-based education
  • broaden the definition of student mobility to include opportunities which bring students from around the world to European universities, as well as taking European students outside of Europe
  • support equitable research partnerships across the globe, eg between European and African partners.

UofG's collaborations with African partners

The CIVIS Alliance builds on the University’s extensive track record of collaboration with African partners supported through the Glasgow Centre for International Development (GCID). This includes our engagement with the African Research University Alliance (ARUA), the establishment of the Malawi Glasgow Network for Interdisciplinary Collaboration (MaGNetIC), our contribution to embedding ethical approaches to international research challenges through GCID and supporting the development equitable international partnerships in conjunction with the Sustainable Futures in Africa Network.

It also offers a strong contribution to Global Sustainable Development which is recognised as one of the five themes of our new Mazumdar-Shaw Advanced Research Centre (ARC). This theme brings together researchers from diverse disciplines from across the University to collaborate with partners on research initiatives that address the most pressing global challenges.

The commitment between CIVIS and its African partners will strengthen and enhance collaborative activity and help to identify ways to respond to societal issues by bringing together CIVIS’ local and global links.

The CIVIS digital campus
In its next phase of development, the CIVIS Alliance is planning to further expand its digital campus. This will provide a space and tools for fostering greater interactions between student and academic communities. It will remove barriers and open an increasing number of interactive educational activities, encouraging greater participation across the Alliance and its partners.

The digital campus will play a key role in creating a multinational and multilingual learning environment, and in enabling collaborative work on challenge-based projects which will tackle societal and climatic challenges.