Benefits of International Collaboration for Building Scientific Capacity

Delegates at TWAS 10th General Conference highlight the benefits of international collaboration for building scientific capacity.

Angra dos Reis, 5 September.

Experts representing the US National Academies of Science, The UK's Royal Society, the Sweden-based International Foundation for Science (IFS) and TWAS joined a panel of 11 international experts to discuss "International Collaboration in Scientific Research and Education: Successful Experiences and Initiatives".

Among the initiatives highlighted was the University Science, Humanities and Engineering Partnerships in Africa (USHEPiA), hosted by the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

The initiative, which involves eight universities located throughout the southern Africa region, has enabled some 40 young scientists to obtain their doctorate degrees by undertaking part or all of their studies at the University of Cape Town, one of the strongest such institutions in the region.

"Because the young scientists remain in the region, this initiative has been particular useful for young women scientists who do not have to travel too far from home and leave their families behind," explained Lydia Makhubu, vice-chancellor of the University of Swaziland.

"By providing graduates with the scientific equipment necessary for them to continue their research, together with financial support for one year, USHEPiA has also helped reduce the brain drain," added Ahmed Azad, a member of the USHEPiA scientific coordination committee. "Of the 41 researchers to have graduated since the programme was initiated in 1994, 37 are still carrying out their research in the region."

Unfortunately, despite an international review committee recommending that the programme be expanded, funding from the sponsors, which include the Rockefeller and Ford Foundations, is expected to terminate in the near future.

"Funds urgently need to be secured to continue and expand this important programme," urged Makhubu.

Jacob Palis, TWAS president-elect, added that "USHEPiA is a perfect example of the type of programme that TWAS supports wholeheartedly — one in which the more advanced of the developing countries open the doors of their institutions to young scientists from less developed and scientifically lagging countries."

Published: 07 Sep 2006

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