Claflin University and Africa University have added a new component to their collaboration: Claflin’s planning to offer online classes to Africa University students who want to earn a master of science degree in biotechnology.
The program is expected to begin in 2022.
Claflin and Africa University announced their partnership in March 2017. The partnership is largely based on a faculty/student exchange program.
Claflin administrators and Professor Peter Mageto, acting vice chancellor at Africa University, met in Orangeburg recently to review the status of the biotechnology program.
“The master’s in biotechnology program will significantly enhance our historic partnership with Africa University,” Claflin President Dr. Dwaun J. Warmack said.
“A master’s degree in biotechnology will increase employment opportunities considerably for their students in the global workforce. The program also expands Claflin’s brand throughout the continent. This will help us recruit talented diverse scholars, faculty and researchers from Africa and other countries,” he said.
Mageto was appointed acting vice chancellor at Africa University in January 2021. He succeeded the university's fourth vice chancellor, Professor Munashe Furusa, who died suddenly during the same month.
“We see biotechnology as a program that will strengthen our relationship with Claflin,” Mageto said. “We also see this as an opportunity to develop an international program that will attract students from beyond our borders and impact how governments will begin to think about biotechnology and climate change.”
Africa University, located in Zimbabwe, is the first and only fully accredited institution of higher learning established on the African continent by the General Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Both Claflin and Africa University are affiliated with the United Methodist Church.
Although COVID-19 has interrupted the partnership's faculty/student exchange initiative, Africa University and Claflin administrators continued their strategic planning through virtual communications platforms.
Africa University’s online enrollment increased as it transitioned its academic programs to 100 percent online during the pandemic.
According to Mageto, enrollment grew from 2,400 to 3,000 students.
“We see ourselves as a learning, teaching and research center that benefits tremendously from this partnership,” Mageto said. “Everyone is very excited about the M.S. in biotechnology program. The enrollment numbers will be shocking because the program is both historic and unique.”