On 9 March – to celebrate Commonwealth Day – the ACU met with scholarship students, alumni and distinguished guests at the National Research Foundation (NRF) in Pretoria, for a day of workshops, networking and exchange.
Kindly hosted by the NRF, the event gathered six of the ACU’s Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarship (QECS) students and alumni from five different countries – many of whom are currently studying in South Africa – and all of whom will use the skills and knowledge they gain while studying to make a difference when they return to their home countries. The ACU is proud to manage this scholarship scheme, which plays a crucial role in fostering international collaboration and cultural exchange in the Commonwealth.
The event, which also marked the 60th Anniversary of the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan, welcomed keynote speeches from His Excellency Nigel Casey MVO, British High Commissioner to South Africa; H.C. Adrien Kouambo Jomague, High Commissioner of Cameroon to South Africa and Her Excellency Ambassador Jean Njeri Kamau, High Commissioner of Kenya to South Africa. Each spoke about the unique potential of the Commonwealth to build a more sustainable future.
Throughout the event, students were given the opportunity to network with fellow scholars, staff from ACU member universities, and colleagues from the NRF and the Department of Higher Education and Training, to share their experiences and hear insights from the Commonwealth High Commissioners present.
Innocent Agume, a QECS Scholar from Uganda, attended the event. Currently studying Swahili at Moi University in Kenya, he has published textbooks to disseminate his knowledge in schools in his home country of Uganda, building the national capacity in this language to help young people to participate more fully in trade and collaboration in the East African region. Innocent’s story is a prime example of how the ACU’s outstanding educational opportunities are helping to lift the lives of people throughout the Commonwealth.
The Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships are unique. Aimed at students who are committed to creating change in their communities, they move the most talented people from all over the Commonwealth to study in low- and middle-income countries for a two-year Master’s degree. The scholarships are a life-changing opportunity to experience a new country and culture, to broaden horizons, and to build a global network that will last a lifetime.
Since 2013, 22 QECS have been hosted at nine different universities throughout South Africa, including the only two PhD QECS scholars in the scheme’s history. These scholars form part of a network of over 35,000 Commonwealth Scholar alumni across the globe.
Commenting on the event, Dr Faye Taylor, Head of Strategic Partnerships at the ACU, said: ‘It was a pleasure to welcome our scholars alongside alumni and distinguished guests to celebrate Commonwealth Day in Pretoria. Scholarships are at the heart of Commonwealth collaboration. They enable not just individuals to develop knowledge in their discipline, embracing new cultures, and creating networks that they treasure throughout their careers, but also national development, by allowing access to the best expertise across the world.
The ACU is committed to expanding educational opportunities for students and academics across the world. Through our unique network and scholarship programmes, we look forward to continuing to provide outstanding educational opportunities and an international platform for collaboration.’
Dr Aldo Stroebel, Executive Director Strategic Partnerships at the NRF, added: ‘The NRF is delighted to partner with a prominent global organisation like the ACU in fostering high-level human capacity development opportunities. Our long-standing and strategic engagement provides a platform to develop and nurture early career scientists to become leading researchers.
The Commonwealth’s extensive reach and impact, and support of South Africa’s programmes, contribute significantly to enhance international networks, mentorship and access to global research funds and infrastructure.’
Organised in partnership with – and generously hosted by – the National Research Foundation, this one-day event took place in Pretoria on Commonwealth Day (9 March 2020).
To learn more about the Queen Elizabeth Commonwealth Scholarships, including eligibility and how to apply, please refer to our FAQs.
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