The University of Cape Town (UCT) has joined hands with the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom to launch a novel Researchers without Borders PhD programme that Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng has described as a “profound collaboration”.
The two universities have developed a framework agreement for operating Cotutelle, or co-tutored PhDs, providing opportunities for students to work on research projects that exploit the strengths and capabilities of both institutions.
Phakeng and Professor Hugh Brady, president of the University of Bristol, signed the agreement in Bristol on 23 July, after the university conferred an honorary doctorate on Phakeng in recognition of her substantial contribution to the development of mathematics education in South Africa.
Participating PhD students will be registered at, and have supervisors and co-supervisors at both universities, spending almost equal amounts of time at each institution during the four-year, fully-funded scholarships.
Phakeng said the novel programme, with its focus on early-career researchers, has great potential to support future leaders in research and society, while “bringing two great universities together in a profound collaboration”.
“They will be uniquely equipped to be globally mobile and will be enabled to make significant contributions in their research and personal leadership.”
Brady said he was delighted to mark the signing of the agreement with UCT, calling it “a watershed moment in our relationship and partnership work in Africa”.
It will support world-class research in new, exciting, co-evolved projects, he added.
Associate Professor Terry McMaster, director of the Bristol Doctoral College who initiated and led the development of the programme, said Researchers without Borders signifies two graduate student communities working in partnership “to support, train and develop the next generation of researchers”.
“They will be uniquely equipped to be globally mobile and will be enabled to make significant contributions in their research and personal leadership,” he said.
Initial support for the programme has come from the two universities, the Global Challenge Research Fund and the University of Bristol’s alumni community.
The first cohort of seven students, yet to be announced, will start projects this year across the diverse research areas of migration and mobility, public health, exercise and epidemiology.
JULY 2019 | STORY SUPPLIED. PHOTO COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF BRISTOL.