06 April 2021 | Story Dr Nitha Ramnath | Photo Supplied
Dr Johan Coetzee, Senior Lecturer and researcher in the Department of Economics and Finance and the UFS Business School

Dr Johan Coetzee from the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at the University of the Free State (UFS) is championing a collaboration with the Salzburg University of Applied Sciences (SUAS) in Austria, resulting in the receipt of a considerable grant from the European Union. 

In 2020, the decision was made to apply for Erasmus+ funding from the European Commission; after a successful grant, a formal inter-institutional agreement was signed in March 2021. The agreement is the culmination of a relationship between the Department of Economics and Finance at the UFS and the Department of Controlling and Finance at SUAS since 2008. More specifically, the relationship is built on the collaboration between the UFS’s Dr Coetzee and Prof Christine Mitter from the SUAS, who was recently appointed as a Research Fellow in Finance in the department. 

“I am extremely proud of the formalisation of the relationship between the two universities. In late 2019, a delegation led by the Dean of Economic and Management Sciences, Prof Hendri Kroukamp, together with Prof Philippe Burger and myself visited Salzburg to formalise and iron out the expectations regarding future collaboration,” says Dr Coetzee. 

“The Erasmus+ grant pays testament to not only on-boarding expertise from a foreign university with a strong niche in being practically relevant to the Austrian society, but also to affirming the relationship with like-minded scholars to provide students with a culturally rewarding university experience. This agreement brings together two departments with a history of working well together, and now it is a formal manifestation of years of mutually beneficial teaching and research efforts,” says Dr Coetzee.

“On the back of this agreement,” concludes Dr Coetzee, “our departments are also currently finalising a proposal to offer a consecutive degree exchange programme where prospective postgraduate students will obtain two master’s degrees in the broader field of finance and spend time on both campuses. We look forward to this becoming a reality in the not-too-distant future.”

In addition to their teaching and research collaboration, several additional academics from the Department of Economics and Finance are also involved in the teaching collaboration. Research projects have also been concluded in the past, with future projects in the pipeline.

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