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The University of Illinois seeks to strengthen ties with Africa

URBANA, Ill. (AP) – The University of Illinois hopes to strengthen its connections with Africa through new partnerships, research exchanges and student enrollment.

The university officials recently visited South Africa and Malawi. The delegation visited representatives of the University of Pretoria, the University of Stellenbosch and the University of Johannesburg, as well as government officials, reported The News-Gazette.

U of I Chancellor Robert Jones said that officials in Africa were eager to work with the university.

"At the end of almost all these meetings … there was a plan on the table," Jones said.

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As other continents begin to see population declines in the For decades to come, Africa is set to see significant growth, said Reitu Mabokela, director of Illinois International.

"When you think about where the needs are going to be, the African continent clearly stands out as an area where we have to think about investing in the long term," he said.

The university already has some links with Africa, through projects on food and nutrition, water resources and sustainability.

But Mabokela said the university can still do more to engage with Africa.

Jones said he hopes connections with South African universities will result in more research partnerships, as well as bringing more African students to the university.

University officials hope to diversify the international registration of the university. The campus had more than 100 students from Africa last fall, representing less than 1 percent of the more than 10,000 international students at the university.

"It is important in the same way that we value diversity in our domestic students," said Mabokela.

Having a diverse classroom, he said, provides broad perspectives and illustrates "what the world looks like in general"

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