U of G ‘AIMS’ to Help African Students

April 25, 2011 - Campus Bulletin

The University of Guelph is helping speed the growth of science and technology capacity in Africa by assisting some of that continent’s brightest young minds.

The University has signed a memorandum of agreement with the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) to support its Next Einstein Initiative’s One for Many scholarship program.

AIMS recruits and provides advanced training to exceptional students from across Africa. Neil Turok, director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ont., founded the first AIMS centre in 2003 in Cape Town, South Africa. The Perimeter Institute has made AIMS the centre of its global outreach efforts.

More than 300 students — about one-third of them women — from 31 African countries have graduated from AIMS programs. More than 95 per cent go on to master’s and PhD programs.

The One for Many scholarship program is a key component of the Next Einstein Initiative, which intends to create a network of 15 AIMS centres across Africa.

Guelph is the fifth Canadian university to join the initiative, and the Canadian government has pledged $20 million for the project. By providing as much money as would fund one graduate student per year on their home campus, each university helps four or five African students at an AIMS centre.

“I am delighted that U of G is able to support this vital initiative and I hope that we will be able to recruit graduates from these programs to study at Guelph,” says U of G president Alastair Summerlee. Anthony Vannelli, dean of the College of Physical and Engineering Science, adds: “By supporting these young men and women, we are planting seeds for the future of science, and the impact it will have on society at large is enormous.”

Partner universities also send faculty members and graduate students as instructors to AIMS centres, where they gain valuable international experience while helping develop science in Africa.

A signing ceremony held April 20 on the U of G campus involved Summerlee, Vannelli, Turok, and AIMS graduates from Nigeria and South Africa.

Turok calls the commitment from U of G and other Canadian universities extraordinary. “Their far-sighted investment will yield an excellent return. Africa is full of brilliant young people who will make the most of the opportunity to develop their minds and skills in Africa and then go on to tackle the many challenges their continent faces.”

University of Guelph
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