The second French day of 2018 of the French Embassy in South Africa, took place at the Durban University of Technology (DUT) on 7 August. As indicated by the theme title: Durban meets France, this event provided the opportunity for students and academic staff from DUT and surrounding Durban universities to discover France. DUT radio covered the event, spreading the excitement of the day to even greater outskirts.

The event, organised by the international relations office of DUT, the French Embassy in South Africa and the Alliance Française of Durban, exposed the participants to the French culture, language, tourism and scientific collaboration opportunities. Durban, in return, shared part of their tradition and culture with the French delegates through the excellent music pieces presented by the KwaZulu Natal Philharmonic Orchestra and the DUT choir as well as the IsiZulu traditional dances and French songs by Rene TSHIAKANYI and Nounouche SALICK.


The head of international relations and governance from the Ethekwini Municipality, Mr Eric APELGREN, and the director of the DUT international and partnership office, Dr Lavern SAMUELS, opened the collaboration discussions with motivating speeches inspiring the students to pursue their studies abroad. The exposure to different cultures and languages, combined with academic competencies acquired at French universities, can enrich and improve South Africa upon the return of internationally educated South African youth.

 

The Campus France office of the French Embassy further informed students about the study opportunities in France. As of master degree level (which is followed by a three year official degree / diploma from South Africa), it is not required to understand any French to study in France. There are over 1 300 master courses in various academic fields, offered in France with English as medium of instruction. Postgraduate students who are interested to pursue a doctoral degree also have the opportunitiy to apply to any of the 270 doctoral schools in France. Another added advantage is that international students are permitted to study at reduced fees at French government subsidised, public universities. The average cost at such universities entail, on average, R4000 to R10 000 per year. Students can, in addition, apply for discounts and financial aid for transport, housing and medical expenses.

South African and Lesotho nationals can also apply for financial aid through the French Embassy Master and PhD scholarship programme. The French Embassy in South Africa is proud to support DUT student, Kwanele KUNENE, who will pursue part of her doctoral studies at the University of Montpellier in France in 2018/2019. DUT students who are alumni from the French Embassy scholarship programme, namely Mr Bongumenzi MNCWANGO who completed a master degree at the Management school of Nantes (2014 – 2016) and Omotola OLAGUNJU who completed part of her doctoral research at the University of Montpellier (2016) further serves as encouragement for DUT students to pursue the study possibilities in France.

 

Apart from the wonderful and exciting tourism aspects, shared by the Atout France office, the academic staff could learn about potential collaboration opportunities with French, scientific institutions based in South Africa. The head of scientific and technologic cooperation from the French Embassy, Prof Jean-Paul TOUTAIN, provided an overview of the French contribution and participation in science and technology in South Africa. Scientific experts from the French-South African Technology Institute (F’SATI), the French-South African Agriculture institute (F’SAGRI) and the French Innovation and Research Institutes (IRD / CNRS / CIRAD) further shared information regarding their initiatives in South Africa. The executive dean from the DUT faculty of Engineering and Built environment, Prof Théo ANDREW, also presented and summary of the research topics in the field of science and technology conducted at DUT. These combined presentations served as a platform for the round-table discussion that followed to identify collaboration opportunities between DUT and France. We will hopefully see fruitful partnerships in the nearby future.

 

The successful day was celebrated by a Durban-French style cocktail lunch and was closed with the cutting of the blue-white-red, French flag decorated cake.