Agreement National Research Foundation

Drs. René Smit and Dr. Albert van Jaarsveld sign the agreement7 October, at the occasion of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu's 82nd birthday, VU University Amsterdam, represented by its Chairman of the Board, Drs. René Smit (left on photo 1), signed an agreement with the National Research Foundation (NRF), represented by its CEO, Dr. Albert van Jaarsveld, for the financial support of 100 South African PhDs for the next five years. Four of the five Desmond Tutu Professors of VU University attended the ceremony, amongst whom Professor Stephen Ellis from the African Studies Centre (standing behind 'the Arch' second from the left).Four of the five Desmond Tutu professors of VU University attended the ceremony This programme is called the Desmond Tutu Training Programme, and the agreement was appropriately signed by two witnesses, being Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu himself (see photo 3) and his daughter Mpho Tutu. The agreement is special because it builds on the Joint Doctorate Agreements (JDA) that VU University has signed with five partner universities in South Africa, and three more of such agreements are lined up and waiting for the final signature. Joint doctorate agreements are an expression of mutual trust between universities and a clear manifestation of equal partnership. JDA's are not well Desmond Tutu signs the agreementembedded in South African university practice yet, but as a consequence of the increasing numbers of bilateral JDAs between institutions in South Africa and abroad, a committee from the South African Department of Higher Education and Training is now working towards it. With regard to this, Dr. Albert van Jaarsveld said at the signing ceremony that as a strong believer in this form of cooperation between a Dutch and South African universities, he preferred 'to ask forgiveness afterwards rather than permission beforehand'. VU University feels privileged and honoured to be part of this development towards more equity in academic relations between the Netherlands and South Africa!
Harry Wels