International Week 2024 Celebrated at UG

International student representatives delivering a performance during the i-week symposium

The University of Ghana, through the International Programmes Office (IPO) has marked the 2024 International Week with a number of activities that brought together international partners, international students and the general UG community.

The highlight of the celebration was an International Symposium held during which UG, its international partners and sister universities converged at the Cedi Conference Centre on the main UG campus, to deliberate on the theme, “Rethinking Internalisation in Africa: The Equity Question”.

A cross-section of participants at the i-week symposium

In his welcome address, Dean of International Programmes, Prof. Eric Osei-Assibey, extended a warm appreciation to all present, noting, “The International Symposium sets the stage for a dynamic exchange of ideas, marking the beginning of an enlightening journey ahead. It fills me with pride to see such a diverse and distinguished gathering here today”.

Dean of International Programmes, Prof. Eric Osei-Assibey

He emphasised the significance of the symposium's theme in today's global context, urging a critical examination of internationalisation paradigms within Africa, particularly focusing on equity and inclusivity.

Prof. Osei-Assibey, also added, “The symposium provides a platform for representatives from over 50 universities to share insights and explore innovative ways to promote greater equity and inclusivity in international education initiatives, as disparities currently exist between universities in the Global North and South”.

Representing the Vice-Chancellor as Chairperson for the occasion, Pro Vice-Chancellor in charge of Academic and Student Affairs (ASA), Prof. Gordon A. Awandare, highlighted the University's engagement with global partners and integration of international perspectives into teaching and research as contained in UG’s decade-long strategic plan. He expressed pleasure at the presence of representatives from other African universities, underscoring the importance of regional collaboration.

Pro Vice-Chancellor in charge of Academic and Student Affairs (ASA), Prof. Gordon A. Awandare

Prof. Awandare congratulated Indiana University on opening its first international gateway in Africa at the University of Ghana and looked forward to working with the University's new representative, Professor Samuel Gyasi Obeng, a UG alumnus, to deepen ties between the two institutions through the new memorandum of understanding.

In a remark to officially open the celebration, a representative of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of Ghana, Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Mr. Peter Taylor, Director of Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, highlighted Ghana's long-standing commitment to multilateralism and its role in promoting international cooperation and sustainable development through partnerships.

“I would like to state that our participation today in this programme is also in line with our policy of public diplomacy, which is a strategic partnership with educational institutions, think tanks, civil society organisations, and private sector operators, among others,” he said.

Mr. Peter Taylor, Director of Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation

He added that the current global situation calls for countries to work together on issues of peace and security, human insecurity, extremism and climate change. He also expressed the belief that educational partnerships being pursued will help Ghana's national development process.

“It is my fervent hope that your deliberations will further enhance our knowledge in the area of internationalisation relating to educational, technological and cultural exchanges and advance the vision of the African Union agenda 2063 as well as the 2030 sustainable development goals,” he added.

In the first keynote lecture on inclusive internationalisation strategies, Prof. Hans de Wit, Emeritus Professor of the Practice and Distinguished Fellow, Centre for International Higher Education, Boston College, via videoconference, discussed how internationalisation strategies in Africa must consider local contexts and the need to ensure inclusion of all students and societies, rather than solely copying models from the global North.

He suggested that universities in the Global South should develop individual internationalisation strategies focused first on domestic interests and challenges like climate change and poverty.

Prof. De Wit’s thought-provoking address encouraged Ghana and other African nations to reimagine internationalisation through an equity lens focused on local priorities and impacts.

Prof. Dr. Birgit Ulrike Munch, Vice Rector for International Affairs, University of Bonn, delivering the second keynote lecture also via videoconferencing, discussed internationalisation efforts at the University of Bonn, including scholarships, language support and research collaborations.

She however noted the importance of equitable international partnerships for universities in Africa, highlighting the challenges and opportunities of rethinking internationalisation in the region. She emphasised the need for mutual benefit, equality in partnerships and shared initiatives to support researchers affected by conflicts as well as the promotion of cultural diversity and open-mindedness.

The well-attended symposium continued with a panel discussion on its central theme, moderated by Prof. Gordon Awandare. The panel featured five experts: Dr. Hilary E. Kahn, Interim Vice President for International Affairs at Indiana University; Dr. Zenebe Uraguchi, Director of the HAFL Hugo P. Cecchini Institute at Bern University of Applied Sciences; Werner de Wit, Senior Programme Manager for Student Mobility at Stellenbosch University; Patrick Gyimah Awuah Jnr., Founder and President of Ashesi University in Ghana; and Dr. Seth Amanfo, Regional Director for Africa and the Middle East at the University of Edinburgh.

From left to right: Moderator Prof. Gordon Awandare with panelists Dr. Hilary E. Kahn, Dr. Zenebe Uraguchi, Werner de Wit, Patrick Gyimah Awuah Jnr., and Dr. Seth Amanfo

Key issues discussed included ensuring mutual benefits for all partner institutions, moving beyond just transactional partnerships and addressing issues around who controls resources, the agenda, and roles/responsibilities in partnerships. Panelists emphasised the need to consider national and regional contexts, policies and priorities in different parts of the world to ensure partnerships are aligned with local needs and values. Innovation in partnerships was also discussed as a way to have a broader impact beyond just student and faculty exchanges.

Special Guest, H.E. Daniel Krull, German Ambassador, addressing the topic, “Internalisation and Equity in Practice”, emphasised the need for Ghana to invest more in research and development to strengthen collaborations.

He noted that budget constraints in Europe, means funds for international cooperation may shrink. However, he said this presents an opportunity for Ghana to allocate more of its own resources to research. He pointed to Ghana's goal of spending 1% of GDP on research, which has not yet been met, and encouraged the citizenry to hold leaders accountable.

The Ambassador suggested that Ghana could channel some of its oil and gas revenues or an estimated $10 billion from illegal gold exports into education and research, as countries like Norway and UAE have done. This would promote "equity" or equal investment from both sides in partnerships.

H.E. Daniel Krull, German Ambassador

Prof. Awandare in the Chairperson’s closing remarks emphasised the importance of equitable partnerships, highlighting the need for all partners to contribute value and integrate their perspectives.

He however, called for longer term partnerships between countries and institutions to promote the sharing of talent, as long as education costs are fully covered by the partner organization.

The symposium highlighted the importance of internalisation in higher education and reminded all of the immense potential there is in the intersection of knowledge, diversity and collaboration.

In attendance were the Registrar, UG, Mrs. Emelia Agyei-Mensah, who introduced the Chairperson; Director of Public Affairs, Dr. Elizier T. Ameyaw-Buronyah, some Deans and Heads of Academic Units, Staff and Students of the University.

The event was enlivened by performances from the Ghana Dance Ensemble. There was also a thrilling performance by international students in which they called for world peace.

Following the closing of the symposium, a Study Abroad Fair was formally opened at the foyer of the Cedi Conference Centre. It featured various Universities and International Education Programmes, that provided students an opportunity to network and learn about options for further studies and scholarships.

Opening of study abroad fair as part of i-week 2024

Other events held during the i-week celebration, were a welcome cocktail for participants on the eve of the International Symposium, held at the International Programmes Office; a food bazaar featuring food and drinks from the African continent and an open air musical concert in which Kwan Pa, an indigenous Ghanaian Band performed, all the car park next the International Students Hostel. There was also a "Rep Your Country" event, which had members of the university community dress up in the attire of any country of their choice.

The International partners also took part in a tour of the University campus, the Legon botanical gardens and a city tour to the Kwame Nkrumah Memorial Park in Accra. The i-week celebration concluded with a closing dinner on Saturday night at the Great Hall, accompanied by a live band performance by the School of Performing Arts Band.

 

Photo Gallery of I-Week International Symposium