International research partnerships

International research partnerships

The creation of new knowledge has become a global project, but Africa's voice is often missing. If it is to take control of its own future, Africa must generate its own knowledge and, in doing so, make global contributions.

Researchers at UCT are committed to bringing African knowledge and expertise to the challenge of solving the world’s most pressing problems. International collaboration is key to achieving this goal, and we have developed a large and vibrant network of partnerships across the globe.

Partnerships in Africa

As one of the leading universities in Africa, UCT can play a vital role in connecting institutions in the northern hemisphere with  networks across our continent. It can draw international expertise here to ensure that an African voice is present in global debates.

UCT is driven to become a vibrant centre of knowledge production on African issues, with both African and global partners, and to produce research of the highest international standards.

Our research snapshot gives an overview of some of UCT’s partnerships in Africa.

Why global partnerships matter

The sustainable development goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations (UN) focus on the world’s most intractable problems. The UN recognises that the goals cannot be met by people working in isolation, and has included "partnerships" as the 17th goal.

Download the Partnerships for the Sustainable Development Goals booklet.

Global research networks

Formal international research networks are multiplying as research itself has become globalised. Universities around the world recognise the need to create ways to organise funding and support for collaborative research. These formal networks have a number of advantages. Perhaps the most significant is the establishment, over time, of trust between the institutions involved that can underpin on-the-ground collaborations and encourage the nurturing of further collaborations.

UCT is a member of several carefully selected formal networks, each established with specific goals in mind that bring different and distinct strategic benefits to its members.

These networks include:

UCT’s formal networks are managed by Wilna Venter, research collaboration specialist.

African Research Universities Alliance

African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA), a partnership of research universities in Africa, was launched in early 2015 in response to the growing challenges faced by African universities. The alliance forms a hub that supports centres of excellence in many universities across the continent. The focus is on building indigenous research excellence to enable the continent to take control of its future and assert itself as a powerful global force.

There are four main thrusts to ARUA's work:

  1. improving training and support for PhD students
  2. capacity building to enhance research management
  3. collaborative research
  4. research advocacy.

Find out more about ARUA.

ARUA in the news:

International Alliance of Research Universities


The International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), established in 2006, is a network of 11 international research-intensive universities from 9 countries. UCT was invited to join in 2015 and formally took up membership in 2016. IARU members work together to address the major challenges of our time, providing opportunities to students and staff and promoting joint projects at various levels between member universities.

One of IARU’s flagship projects is the Global Summer Program offered between June and September every year. Each member university presents modules that students from other IARU universities may apply to join. One of the aims of the program is to give international students an experience of different cultures.

Find out more about:

IARU in the news:

Worldwide Universities Network


The Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) is a leading higher education and research network made up of 24 universities across the globe. Together they work to drive international research collaboration and address issues of global significance. WUN has 90 active research initiatives, engaging over 2 000 researchers and students.

UCT joined WUN in October 2009 as part of the university's strategic goal to increase international research collaboration.

UCT has ring-fenced funding to enable researchers' participation in the WUN Research Development Fund, which provides grants for research projects that include at least 3 member universities and span at least 2 geographical regions.

Find out more about:

WUN in the news:

Australia Africa Universities Network

Australia Africa Universities Network (AAUN) is a group of leading universities in Australia and Africa, connecting researchers and academics through institutional partnerships in order to address challenges facing both continents. AAUN's objectives are to develop institutional research partnerships and capacity-building and training programmes.

AAUN supports projects that focus on of food security, public health, public sector reform, education, mining and economic development.

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