SU obtains sought-after membership of international consortium of universities

Stellenbosch University (SU) is the first university in South Africa and Africa to become a member of the global Academic Consortium for the 21st Century (AC21) organisation.

The organisation was established in 2002 under the leadership of Nagoya University in Japan as an international network comprised of educational, research and industrial organisations. AC21’s aim is among others collaboration between is members with regard to teaching and research and the sharing of knowledge to improve quality of life on earth.

The organisation consists of twenty universities from among others Australia, Europe, Asia, the USA and the UK as well as six industrial partners such as the Toyota Motor Corporation.

According to Mr Robert Kotzé, Director of the International Office, universities become members by invitation only. “On grounds of the contact Prof Arnold van Zyl, Vice-Rector: Research, has with the Technical University Chemnitz in Germany and the collaboration in industrial engineering between SU and Chemnitz, SU was nominated as a member of the consortium by Chemnitz.”

Mr Kotzé explained that a significant number of universities in AC21 are from China and that membership of the network will enable SU to establish contact with these universities. “The membership is a meaningful strengthening of our international network of universities. There is a strong focus on research and technology transfer in the regions in which the various universities function. Furthermore, from its perspective on Community Interaction, Stellenbosch will be able to make a meaningful contribution to the network. There is also room for student exchange programmes and general student interaction via a AC21 Student Forum held every two years. We have already been approached by the University of Adelaide for a possible direct bilateral cooperation.”


Who we are

The Academic Consortium for the 21st Century (AC21) was established on June 24, 2002 at the International Forum 2002 hosted by Nagoya University, Japan, as an international network comprised of educational, research and industrial organizations throughout the world. The Forum brought together the presidents and high-ranking delegations from twenty-five of the world’s leading education and research institutions, and resulted in the founding of a new and vigorous global partnership in higher education, “Academic Consortium AC21”.

The principal theme of the inaugural forum, “The Role of Universities in the 21st Century”, continues to guide AC21’s activities to this day. In an era of continuous change, we believe that institutions of higher education must take the initiative in responding to the rapidly transforming needs of society, and that an international university network, with its common pool of knowledge, expertise and experience, comprises the optimum means to accomplish this. As demonstrated by the scale of our projects and activities, AC21 is firmly committed to contributing to the global knowledge sector.

The vision of AC21 is the promoting of cooperation in education and research between members, the bridging between different societies in the world and the delivering of wisdom to all people to mutually understand and share values, knowledge and cultures necessary to improve quality of life and to foster co-existence beyond national and regional boundaries in the 21st century.

The AC21 logo representing the harmonious cooperation in education and research bridging between different societies in the world to share

Main Activities

The activities of AC21 can be divided into the three broad areas of Education, Research, and Partnerships with Industry and Local Regions. Through joining the organization, all members have agreed to support the following activities:

  1. Regularly holding AC21 International Research and Student Forums
  2. Active exchange of students, faculty members and administrative staff
  3. Shared access to information on research interests and academic activities
  4. Development of cooperative educational programs
  5. Development of partnerships with industry and local regions.


  • Development of students with a multi-cultural understanding and an international perspective
  • Promotion of interdisciplinary research bridging the cultural gap between humanities and science
  • Promotion of lifelong education
  • Dissemination of world-class knowledge and provision of outstanding human resource development


  • Support of high-quality, internationally active researchers
  • Promotion of international collaborative research
  • Creation of international frameworks for technology transfer
  • Assisting the development of internationally competitive industries

Partnerships with Local Regions and Industry:

  • Development of cultural and technological exchange
  • Understanding company cultures through international internship programs
  • Strengthening of R&D through collaboration of AC21 (associate) members
  • Provision of information on legislations, labor, etc. for associate members



  • University of Adelaide
  • University of Sydney


  • Huazhong University of Science and Technology
  • Jilin University
  • Nanjing University
  • Northeastern University
  • Peking University
  • Shanghai Jiao Tong University
  • Tongji University


  • University of Strasbourg


  • Chemnitz University of Technology
  • University of Freiburg


  • Gadjah Mada University


  • Nagoya University

Lao Peoples Democratic Republic

  • National University of Laos

South Africa

  • Stellenbosch University


  • Chulalongkorn University
  • Kasetsart University

United Kingdom

  • University of Warwick

United States

  • North Carolina State University