07 September 2023 | Story Rorisang Ramorena | Photo Supplied
IEASA 2023
Colleagues from the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Office for International Affairs (OIA) attended the International Education Association of South Africa’s (IEASA) annual conference.

Having marked its 25th anniversary in 2023, the International Education Association of South Africa’s (IEASA) annual conference took place from 22 to 25 August 2023 in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, attended by colleagues from the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Office for International Affairs (OIA).  

About the conference 

The IEASA – a non-profit organisation – was established as a result of the need for universities and universities of technology in South Africa to respond to international educational trends. If South Africa is to remain competitive within the global economic environment, it is important that higher education provides opportunities for students to obtain a global perspective on their studies. 

The purpose of this conference was to reflect on the past 25 years of IEASA’s existence, while also looking ahead to many more years. Colleagues from the UFS attended and supported the event and some staff members presented papers, as follows: 


Mbali Moiketsi and Matome Mokoena presented a paper, titled Digital Internationalisation Practices in Higher Education: Same Old (or not). The pair conducted desktop research and compared the systems used by the UFS, the Durban University of Technology, and the University of South Africa. The paper assessed how digitalisation has the potential to promote social justice by addressing issues of equity and fairness in the distribution of educational opportunities.   

Chevon Slambee partnered with Quinter Onyango, presenting their paper titled Social Justice and Inclusion as a lens to address the digital divide in higher education. The presentation explored the gaps and interventions by universities to address the digital divide – issues such as digital literacy and competency, while fostering inclusion and social justice by using relevant SDGs.  Their data, collected through primary and secondary sources, were embedded in the social justice theoretical perspective. In addition, Slambee and Prof Lynette Jacobs presented a poster based on the work that they are doing in the iKudu Consortium, titled Equal Consortium Collaboration: The iKudu Project.  The iKudu project has been conceptualised to develop a contextualised South African concept of Internationalisation of the Curriculum (IoC), which integrates Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) virtual exchanges.

Bhekumusa Zikhali, Kagiso Ngake, and Atlehang Bokaba presented a paper, titled The Role of Internationalisation in Developing Leadership in University Students and Staff. The paper interrogated the effectiveness of internationalisation activities in making university students and staff better leaders, and how has been measured. The paper concluded that there is little literature on the topic, and research needs to be done to evaluate the effectiveness of internationalisation programmes and existing leadership courses through collaborative work. 

Meaningful contributions

For many of the colleagues, the experience was thrilling, as it was the first time that the IEASA family physically engaged with each other after three years of attending the virtual iteration of the IEASA conference. Slambee added, “The conference theme was apt, as it allowed the IEASA organisation to reflect on its past accomplishments and milestones, and to look back at how far the organisation has evolved.” 

She further added that she was ignited by the energy in the professional space, engaging with colleagues, and hearing just how internationalisation has evolved within their respective contexts.

“It takes teamwork to make a conference a success.  A conference is only complete with the people working on a common vision to make it come alive.  The young voice is vital to keep the conference vibrant.  Inclusivity is fundamental to ensuring a balance between the old and the new within the organisation,” Mokoena said when asked about the highlights of the conference. 

Moiketsi felt that ‘Looking back – Looking forward’ was the appropriate theme for the event. She added, “Looking back and reflecting on internationalisation at higher institutions has provided meaningful contributions to where we want to go as an institution. Higher education has witnessed significant transformations in recent years, and it can only get better from now on.”

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