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LSE forges its first full African partnership

The University of Cape Town and the London School of Economics and Political Science have become official institutional partners – sealing LSE’s first formal alliance with an African university.

The partnership is likely to lead to student exchanges, visiting fellowships for academics, research collaborations and training programmes. A summer school in Africa and joint lectures using the internet to link audiences in London and Cape Town are further possibilities.

A Memorandum of Understanding was signed at a ceremony in South Africa by Dr Max Price, vice chancellor of the University of Cape Town (UCT) and Professor Sarah Worthington, LSE’s pro-director for research and external relations.

Signing of partnership with UCTUCT becomes LSE’s fifth academic partner – along with Columbia University in New York, Sciences Po in Paris, Peking University in Beijing and the National University of Singapore. However the School already has (and will maintain) links with other African institutions which include the universities of Makerere (Uganda), Ardhi (Tanzania), Witwatersrand, KwaZulu-Natal and Pretoria.

Professor Worthington said: ‘Our partnerships help us maintain and extend our global reach, both in enriching and informing our academic work and in promoting our world-class research and skills. We are particularly pleased to be allying ourselves with what is widely considered to be Africa’s finest university. This is a continent where so much that is crucial to the world is happening and we look forward to working with UCT to improve our understanding and to have real impact in addressing some of the continent’s major challenges.’

Dr Price emphasized the importance of this partnership for UCT, which in selecting partners looks for institutions that will support the University’s goals and work: ‘In this instance, the arts and social sciences are under threat in South Africa and the partnership with the LSE will help strengthen the profile and importance of the humanities to potential students, funders and the government.’

The two partner universities have much in common; both are research-led and have a strong track record in bridging the worlds of academia and public policy, helped by the fact that both are very close to their national parliaments. LSE will particularly look to develop research collaboration with UCT researchers in the Faculty of Humanities (which embraces the social sciences), Law and Commerce (including the School of Economics and Graduate School of Business).

LSE already has a flourishing Africa Initiative, which is designed to inspire the exchange of ideas and expertise between Africa and the School. The initiative is led by Professor Thandika Mkandawire, who holds LSE’s first Chair in African Development.

To mark the signing of the new partnership in Cape Town, Professor Mkandawire gave a lecture entitled Running While Others Walk: the challenge of African development, which provoked a lively and informed discussion. Professor Jo Beall, currently serving as UCT deputy vice chancellor while on leave from LSE, was also in attendance.


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