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Tuesday, July 5, 2022

UCT vice-chancellor, Mamokgethi Phakeng, appointed IARU chair

UNIVERSITY of Cape Town (UCT) Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng has been elected as International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU) chairperson, marking the first time in the organisation’s history that it has been led by an African.

IARU, which was established in 2006, is a network of 11 international research-intensive universities from Australia, Switzerland, Singapore, China, the US, the UK, Denmark, Japan and South Africa.

The network is comprised of Australian National University, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zurich, National University of Singapore, Peking University, University of California – Berkeley, University of Cambridge, UCT, University of Copenhagen, University of Oxford, University of Tokyo and Yale University.

The purpose of IARU is to promote institutional joint working on various levels of the member universities, such as inter-university networking, institutional learning and staff development.

Its projects cover a range of topics, including equal opportunities, technology transfer, technology-enhanced learning, research administration, libraries and open access.

Phakeng was elected at the recent IARU Presidents’ meeting, which took place at Cambridge University in the UK. She will succeed University of Cambridge Vice-Chancellor Professor Stephen J Toope as IARU chair at the end of this year.

“Our world is facing extraordinary challenges, and universities have a key role to play in sustaining and strengthening the global connections necessary to meet the moment. Since joining in 2016, UCT has made a significant contribution to all aspects of the alliance,” Toope said on June 20.

Phakeng will serve a two-year term from 2023 to 2025, during which the IARU secretariat will be located at UCT.
“Higher education has a critical role to play in this time of global inequality, rising nationalism and the planetary threat of climate change. UCT values deeply the close relationships within the alliance that generate the trust and insights to play a part in tackling these challenges together,” she said.

IARU has a global reach across a relatively small membership, which allows unprecedented peer-to-peer networking and sharing.
Its activities range widely from working groups focused on vital aspects of running a leading research university – including equal opportunities, cybersecurity, libraries and open access – to tackling global challenges such as sustainable solutions to climate change.

The alliance also offers opportunities for students to attend joint courses and internships.

The 11 IARU members share similar values, a global vision and a commitment to educating future world leaders. Central to these values is the importance of academic diversity and international collaboration.

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