Durban – THE signing of a memorandum of understanding between the University of Zululand (UniZulu) with one of the world’s top nuclear and pesticide companies, promises to give students from the higher education institution access to some of the best expertise and knowledge on Earth.
UniZulu’s vice-chancellor, Professor Xoliswa Mtose, said the signing would aid the university in its mission to produce globally competitive students.
It would also help the institution enhance its research and innovation, and improve the image of the institution, not only regionally, but also nationally and internationally.
“Viewed from this strategic vantage point, these partnerships are not mere nice-to-have engagements. They are at the core of our business of contributing to the human capital development of South Africa,” she said.
The agreement came from behind-the-scenes work between UniZulu, the Russian Embassy, Schelkovo Agrochem and Rosatom Central and Southern Africa. She said there would be an exchange of undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and post-doctoral students to educational institutions that were associated with Rosatom Central and Southern Africa.
There would also be joint research projects between UniZulu, Rosatom and educational institutions from Russia.
In addition, there would be joint cultural and educational programmes and events, in South Africa and abroad.
Ryan Collyer, acting chief executive of Rosatom Central and Southern Africa, said that in the nuclear industry it was important to have highly educated people.
“South Africa is in a good position as it has a very mature nuclear industry within it and there are a lot of highly skilled individuals within the country. We are constantly looking for new ways to support education initiatives.
“There really is a lot of synergy in terms of what we can do together to educate African people in South Africa in various nuclear disciplines,” he said.
They also wanted to address the myth around nuclear science, that it was just energy.
He said there were numerous other applications to nuclear science, such as medicine and agriculture.
They hoped the activities between UniZulu and Rosatom would start as soon as possible, and that they would let the students study in Russia for as long they were interested in studying nuclear science.
Russian embassy representative Alexey Semenov said South Africa was the most developed country on the continent, and Russia had had a historical relationship with South Africa for many years.
It saw South Africa as being strategic and wanted to strengthen the relationship between the two.
With the world being affected by Covid-19, Semenov said: “Covid has taught us the world is fragile. It is through unity that challenges can be overcome.”