The Italian Higher Education with Africa Foundation is established

Six Italian universities together with Africa for a virtual mobility programme and a master’s for researchers and instructors

Six Italian universities have signed an act constituting the Italian Higher Education with Africa Foundation in the ‘virtual’ presence of the Minister of University and Research, Gaetano Manfredi.

In addition to the Politecnico di Milano, the other universities are Alma Mater Studiorum – Università di Bologna, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, Università degli Studi di Padova, and Sapienza - Università di Roma.

 Eugenio Gaudio, rector of the Sapienza, was elected president of the foundation.

This is an important result after a course of nearly two years to promote the internationalisation of our universities in Africa and contribute to local development with an eye on cooperation.

The goal of the foundation is use interdisciplinary scientific methods to develop teaching, education, and the training of students residing in African countries and to promote paths of support and development for personnel and faculty at local universities.

The universities in the IHEA Foundation have worked amid the COVID-19 crisis to organise a multi-level educational programme to support African universities in sustaining the resilience of their educational systems.

The first initiatives have already begun: the virtual mobility programme, aimed at some African universities that are already partners, began this semester. The agreement allows up to a maximum of five students to be selected for participation in online courses. This is possible due to the courses offered with extended methods, that is, both in person and virtual, implementing the positive experience of last semester and enhancing innovative teaching. For the Politecnico di Milano, four agreements have been finalised: with the Catholic University of Cameroon, Strathmore University - Technical University of Mombasa (Kenya), Somali National University, and Mandela Institute of Technology (Tanzania).

To reinforce the resilience of tertiary educational systems, the foundation is also working to define a specializing master’s dedicated to young researchers and instructors at African universities.

This multidisciplinary programme aims to reinforce a body of transverse knowledge for teaching and research regarding strategic issues for Africa, such as resource management and local development. The master’s, which will begin in 2021, is inspired by the 2030 and 2063 Agendas and entails various theoretical and practical modules, each managed by instructors from the universities in the IHEA Foundation and favouring the active participation of instructors from African universities.

The ambition is to work with colleagues at African universities to design innovative Laurea (equivalent to Bachelor of Science) courses to develop the skills necessary on the continent and to promote the quality of the Italian educational system as a pilot example of transnational education for Italy.