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The Third Annual BRICS Network University Conference held in Stellenbosch, South Africa on July 4-7, 2018

International Governing Board together with the 6 International Thematic Groups of the BRICS Network University gathered for the third time at the General BRICS NU Conference. This time it was held at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa and attracted experts and scholars as well as officials of the Ministries of Education of all five member states. The very theme of the conference “Unlocking BRICS Universities Partnerships: Postgraduate Opportunities and Challenges” was indicative of the necessity for the BRICS NU to foster real collaboration in Master’s and PhD programmes. The call to action was a cross-cutting theme of all the presentations of the conference.

The presentations included address by the Minister of Higher Education and Training of South Africa, Hon. Naledi Pandor, who specifically emphasized the necessity of the concrete actions in the framework of the BRICS NU, which is, without any doubt, a flagship educational project of the BRICS countries. “If we work together effectively and with purpose, we can achieve our goal of becoming a powerful force for growth, development and discovery. We have enormous potential to bolster the existing strong political and economic ties between our countries", the Minister said.

The conference also included keynote talks and presentations of well-known international experts, such as Prof. Ari Sitas, Chair of South African BRICS Think Tank, and Prof. Rasigan Maharajh, Chief Director of the Institute for Economic Research on Innovation at Tshwane University of Technology, South Africa. The experts analyzed BRICS collaboration in the light of Global South consolidation and emphasized the need to overcome remnants of colonialism in thought and actions.

The main practical discussions were held at the meetings of international thematic groups, which had been asked to prepare concrete proposals on joint postgraduate programmes and to present them to the International Governing Board. For the moment the groups are finalizing their proposals.

International Governing Board gathered on July 6th, 2018 and discussed a number of important issues, such as the necessity to establish a special coordinating office of the BRICS NU, the need to form special working groups on credit recognition and quality assurance on the one hand, and on procedural issues of the BRICS NU on the other hand. The ideas of special BRICS scholarships as well as of a BRICS Studies journal were also discussed. The members of the International Governing Board highlighted necessity of continuous interaction in between the general conferences and expressed their aspiration to organize such discussions at least 4 times a year. The IGB meeting decided to report these and other related issues to the BRICS Education Senior Officials Meeting to be held in Cape Town on July 9th, 2018.

The conference adopted a declaration, which, inter alia, encourages the member universities to enter into bilateral and multilateral agreements, expresses the value of inclusiveness and highlights the need to obtain resources to support postgraduate programmes in the framework of the BRICS NU. The Declaration encourages all participating universities to use the BRICS NU Web-site (nu-brics.ru) both as a repository of information and as an important channel of communication. The Declaration can be downloaded from here.