Turkey’s Ambassador to Botswana, Ms Meltem Buyukkarakas, on July 07, 2022 paid Vice Chancellor, Professor David Norris, a courtesy call to explore possible areas in which to enhance collaboration especially in research, education and training.
Welcoming the ambassador, Professor Norris, said UB was a comprehensive University comprising eight faculties of Engineering and Technology, Humanities, Business, Health Sciences, Education, Medicine, Science and Social Science. He said currently UB had a total of 17 000 students, though it had capacity to enrol 20 000 students.
“We want to increase this number with international students and online degree programmes particularly at masters and PhD levels,” said Professor Norris. He further noted that UB was undergoing transformation to become a research intensive institution. He asked Ms Buyukkarakas to make provision for a special dispensation for UB staff to further their studies in Turkey because it would be cost effective.
“A developing country needs strong institutions with more focus on research that is impactful to societal challenges. Initially, as a University we were not more involved in the whole value chain of research and innovation or produced products that we could even commercialise. This an area we can work together on with universities in Turkey because they are far ahead of us,” said Professor Norris
Furthermore, Professor Norris said UB’s intention was to equip students with business development and entrepreneurship skills to instil a sense of innovation in them so that they could become job creators instead of job seeker. That would also address the country’s high unemployment rate through development of a new curriculum. In addition, UB was in the process of establishing a software development hub to nature student’s talents.
Part of the new strategy, said the Vice Chancellor, was to transform UB into an entrepreneurial university. Professor Norris said other areas UB wanted to collaborate on with Turkey universities included staff training, staff and students exchange programmes. He said UB’s key priority areas included research and innovation, online degree programmes and value chain products.
For her part, Ms Buyukkarakas said she was keen on developing a strong relationship with UB especially on the education sector. She said historically Turkey partnership with Africans countries was mainly concentrated in the northern part of the continent given the geographic proximity.
Ms Buyukkarakas underscored Turkey’s humanitarian interest in sub-Saharan African countries for the past 20 years. She also said Turkey became a strategic member of the African Union in 2008. Ms Buyukkarakas viewed Turkey’s new policy on Africa as a success because of increased institutional presence on the continent.
“There is a very vibrant Turkey business community, schools and cultural centres in many African countries. We also enjoy cordial relations with Botswana hence opening an embassy here was a milestone in that we are currently exploring more areas of collaboration with Botswana,’’ said Ms Buyukkarakas.
She said Turkey had also been providing scholarships to African students for the past 20 years and so far more than 10 000 had benefited from these scholarships. However, Ms Buyukkarakas expressed concern over the low number of Batswana benefitting from Turkish scholarships and her desire was to increase number.
“Over 200 Batswana applied this year but only 10 met the criteria and some of them were UB graduates,” said Ms Buyukkarakas.
Ms Buyakkakaras encouraged UB staff and students to apply for scholarships at both undergraduate and graduate levels. Ms Buyukkakarakas noted that last year Turkey High Education Council signed MoU with Botswana to foster cooperation between universities of the two countries. The aim was also to offer scholarships opportunities, joint academic programmes, scientific researches as well as exchange of students and academics.