ACU Centenary deliberates universities’ role in social and economic development

​​The University of Johannesburg’s (UJ) attendance at the Association of Commonwealth Universities’ (ACU) Centenary Conference (October 16-18, 2013) at University of London’s Senate House in Central London, UK, once again demonstrates the University’s commitment to become an international university of choice anchored in Africa, determined to shape the future.


ACU’s three-day centenary conference themed Future forward: design, develop, deliver, is bringing together top academics and high-profile speakers to discuss the role universities play in social and economic development, and help delegates to better understand, promote, and plan for the impact of these changes in higher education.
Higher education is at a crossroads and new institutions of higher learning are being created in response to political agendas, the growing global middle class, and the accessibility of funding. In addition, internal and external stakeholders are demanding that universities become more than just ‘ivory towers’ and that they need to demonstrate their commitment to and interaction with the wider society.
“Founded in 1913, the ACU is now hundred years old and it takes pride in being the oldest university network in the world,” says conference delegate Professor Tinyiko Maluleke, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Student Affairs, Advancement and Internationalisation of UJ.
The plenary topics for the first day of the conference were “Future forward: taking charge of change”, “Governance and leadership”, and “The international student: the next phase”, and highlights included a keynote address from Sir. David King, UK Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative for Climate Change and ACU Centenary Speaker, as well as young researchers sharing their experiences and challenges encountered within their field of work.
Says Professor Maluleke: “One young researcher from Cameroon, Dr Boghuma K Titanji, a doctoral research candidate of University College London, highlighted the challenges facing a European-trained researcher based in Africa, another researcher elaborated on the need for Africa to do better in research and to nurture the next generation of researchers”.
Speaking on the implications of the growing middle class on higher education, Sir David King, stressed the need for Online Distance Learning (ODL) as one of the expectations of the middle class. “Universities need a paradigm shift in thinking about the role of higher education in the 21st century. The thirst for knowledge that is exploding in Africa and Asia needs to be quenched. Part of the answer is ODL,” says Sir David King.
Follow via Twitter, Prof Maluleke (@ProfTinyiko), as he reports on the conference proceedings. ​
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