Coventry University’s Vice-Chancellor and CEO Professor John Latham was the special guest at Stellenbosch University in South Africa last week where he provided an invited lecture showcasing the pioneering enterprise initiatives of Coventry both as applied to its own operations – which have seen it receive a number of awards including the title Entrepreneurial University of the Year – and its substantial engagement with industry globally.
The VC and CEO of Coventry University, who also holds the post of extraordinary professor at Stellenbosch, was welcomed as part of the development of increasingly strong teaching, research and business links between the two institutions.
Professor Latham presented to senior staff on the entrepreneurial approach adopted by Coventry’s staff and students, and how it permeates through all activities – an approach which has seen it build a global reputation for innovation in the higher education sector in recent years.
Joining Professor Latham on the visit was Professor Alpaslan Özerdem from Coventry’s Centre for Peace, Trust and Social Relations, who has a long standing link with Stellenbosch as both institutions are committed to peace and reconciliation activities.
Professor Özerdem’s recent award from the Peace Corps of Nigeria for global peacebuilding work is just one example of the increasing recognition that Coventry researchers’ enterprising activities in Africa are achieving.
Dr David Pilsbury – who oversees Coventry’s ambitious internationalisation strategy – was also a guest at Stellenbosch University and provided an insight into how the University’s global ambitions had seen it strike up successful new joint-ventures as far afield as Turkey and China which has seen its global student population rise to over 40,000 – a figure expected to reach 80,000 by 2020.
Professor Gideon Maas, who leads Coventry’s International Centre for Transformational Entrepreneurship, established a joint Africa Centre for Transformational Entrepreneurship with Stellenbosch during the visit which will see Coventry students work with African students as part of an international doctoral academy and reach out to businesses.
Speaking about the University’s development, Professor Latham told staff at Stellenbosch that the squeeze on financial support from the UK government means that higher education institutions have to become more innovative, enterprising organisations like Coventry.
Nine or ten years ago about 80-85% of our funding came from government. Now it’s closer to 25%. Our students are very discerning and place a lot of value on key indicators such as their ability to find a job after getting their degree. That’s why at Coventry we ensure they are getting a fantastic learning experience and the right work placement opportunities to prepare them for life after graduation.
In terms of our research, it must be impactful and of the highest quality. At Coventry we want to create areas of niche dominance, and we’re investing a huge amount into building expertise in the areas in which we know we’re world-leading.
Coventry University will be returning to the Western Cape in May next year as part of the prestigious British Council-backed Going Global event, which will once again see the institution demonstrating what it is doing to drive innovation and enterprise in the international community.