08 June 2020 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Sonia Small
Prof Francis Petersen is one of the leaders in a prestigious international panel for a COVID-19 webinar involving Uganda, the Netherlands, and Morocco.


Webinar details
Date: Wednesday, 10 June 2020
Time: 13:00 South African time (14:00 East African Standard Time)

Webinar link: https://www.ruforum.org/introductory-note-webinar-1
To participate register here

University leaders from Africa and beyond will take part in a Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) webinar on Wednesday, 10 June, to look at universities’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State, will be one of four panellists who will be the main speakers of the day. He is the only panellist from South Africa. 

Prof Petersen will participate alongside university leaders such as Prof Arthur Mol, Rector Magnificus of Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands, Mr Hicham el Habti, Secretary General at the Mohammed VI Polytechnique University (UM6P) in Morocco, as well as Prof Barnabas Nawangwe, Vice-Chancellor of the Makerere University in Uganda. 

Getting together with other university leaders from the continent and abroad, speakers will share insights from their respective countries in dealing with the pandemic. The webinar takes place on 10 June 2020 at 13:00 South African time (14:00 East African Standard Time)

RUFORUM is a consortium of 46 universities in Eastern, Central, Western, and Southern Africa mandated to oversee graduate training and networks of specialisation in the countries and universities where it works. 

What is the webinar about?
The RUFORUM webinar titled ‘Learning from a crisis: University leaders’ response to the COVID-19 Pandemic', aims to tackle issues such as the immediate needs of universities, including staff realignment, dealing with the digital divide in the student community, institutional finance for operations and innovations in a changing landscape, and international students in a crisis moment. 

This webinar provides a great opportunity to galvanise collective responses from university leaders on this pandemic. It brings together universities from within and outside Africa on lessons learnt in confronting the immediate challenges and how they are resetting for a long-term perspective in the ‘new normal’. Interactions during this webinar will hopefully lead to a consensus on strengthening collective response and how universities can leverage one another in terms of the best practices and resources.  

The impact of the Coronavirus on higher learning institutions 
Given the devastation caused by COVID-19 across the world since its outbreak in China in December 2019, the impact has been felt in all spheres of the economy and global operations. Universities have also seen significant interruptions, including the UFS. Recently, RUFORUM conducted a study on the readiness of African universities to respond to COVID-19 and other natural disasters. This was meant to determine the level of preparedness of our institutions in facing this global pandemic and how to move forward as a continent while preserving the quality of the higher education that we deliver.  

The webinar will build on those findings and project a way forward in this unchartered territory of diminished financial resources, personal and academic challenges for staff, students, and institutional systems, the urgent need for improved infrastructure to respond to the demand for blended learning as well as remote learning approaches, and the limited mobility of students, academic and other staff, among others. Addressing these issues resulted in collaborations such as those initiated by RUFORUM.

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