Collaborating for better maritime training
Maritime universities collaborate across continents
SOUTH AFRICA: Delegates from three European universities are currently being hosted in South Africa by local maritime departments in a benchmarking exercise that aims to better position the country for future maritime education and training.
Representatives from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), Durban University of Technology (DUT) and Nelson Mandela University (NMU) travelled to Finland, Germany and the United Kingdom earlier this year as a precursor to this visit.
The collaboration between the universities is being undertaken within the Erasmus+ project (Erasmus+ Capacity Building in Higher Education) and links the three South African universities with Satakunta University of Applied Sciences (SAMK) in Finland, Hochschule Wismar University of Applied Sciences (HSW) in Germany and Solent University in the United Kingdom.
“This is primarily a benchmarking exercise for us,” says Sergio Giannotti of NMU. “Having already visited their facilities, this represents an opportunity for representatives of these partner institutes to see how we are tackling training locally,” he added.
Meeting the requirements of training under the STCW Convention and maintaining a position on the IMO White List as well as ensuring accreditation to the European Maritime Safety Authority standards, remains a priority for all the countries represented by the six universities.
“It is interesting to see how the different institutions are fulfilling the requirements of the Code as well as who is going beyond these requirements,” notes Giannotti who adds that the purpose is to learn from these outliers and engagements.
“There are different ways to fulfil different measures,” agrees Sauli Ahvenjärvi of SAMK who believes that collaborative exchanges that extend to sharing of useful information relating to the choice of training equipment will be of benefit to all.
“Wherever we may be in our own institutions, there is always an opportunity to learn from other ways of doing things. It is encouraging to see how local institutions are adapting and working proactively to overcome barriers,” said Dr Carole Davis from Solent.
Highlighting Finland’s dependence on the sea, Ahvenjärvi, says that they continue to attract at least 50 students a year into their deck officer and engine officer programmes. According to Gerrit Tuschling from HSW, a similar number of German students are being attracted into their seafarer programmes.
NMU, CPUT and DUT recently teamed up with other local maritime educators to establish the Maritime Academic Institution of South Africa (MAISA) which aims to unify the voice of maritime training providers and advocate for future-proof training of South African seafarers.
“This is a wonderful learning experience for us. The facilities we saw on our trips to Europe are extremely impressive and serve as an aspiration for us,” said Derek Lambert of CPUT who adds that the advent of MAISA will further help the universities pool resources as well as advocate for the approval of distance learning within the accredited maritime training ambit.
The Erasmus Plus Mobility project for higher education students and staff could be the next step for the six institutions to take part in.