BusIT Week: Belgium Campus iTversity Hosts
International Initiative for Student Exchange

Belgium Campus iTversity, a leading educational institution specialising in Information Technology skills, is hosting the South African leg of an international initiative known as BusIT Week during 7-12 April on the topic ‘Smart Cities: FoodRescue South Africa: Nourishing Communities’.  

The initiative, organised by a network of partners, universities, and university colleges of Applied Sciences, aims to facilitate short-term internationalisation for students. International BusIT Week is a product of Businet, a group of international tertiary institutions such as universities dedicated to creating international experiences for students. Belgium Campus iTversity is the only institution in Africa that takes part. It is an intensive week during which students from around the world collaborate to address modern issues while focusing on a specific theme aligned with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Each year, every institution in the group hosts a BusIT Week and the event is open to all students from first to final years. The week provides an opportunity for students to make use of their technical skills, while burnishing their social and interpersonal skills. “It provides a space where people from diverse cultural backgrounds and geographic locations can share knowledge and ideas, creating room for new lines of dialogue which may not have otherwise existed. It also provides students an opportunity to collaborate with international peers for professional development beyond their home countries,” explains Francois Venter, Project Lead on Internationalisation at Belgium Campus. 

The aim of the selected topic, ‘Smart Cities: FoodRescue South Africa: Nourishing Communities’, he says, is to empower students to tackle food shortages using cutting-edge Internet of Things (IoT) technology. ”The goal is to develop and showcase a functional IoT prototype that provides people from a community assistance in maintaining a healthy system. This prototype will demonstrate the potential of IoT technology to contribute to sustainable solutions addressing food shortages, offering tangible proof of concept and inspiring further innovation in the field.” 

Venter adds: “It’s about creating a much more rounded student, culturally aware and able to work across time zones and cultural aspects and stems from long-term partnerships with international partners, aligning with Belgium Campus’s commitment to internationalisation and its longstanding relationships within the network.” 

BusIT Week further aligns with the institutions’ focus on cultural and IT skills. “IT is a massive growing field that we need to expose students to. The initiative provides students with valuable experiences in working across time zones and cultural boundaries, ultimately enhancing their professional readiness and global perspective,” says Venter. 

The selection criteria is entirely inclusive, emphasising Belgium Campus’s commitment to providing opportunities for all students, regardless of their academic year. While certain skill levels are required, students at any stage of their academic journey are welcome to join, fostering a collaborative environment where students support each other’s learning. 

South Africa in turn brings much to the BusIT Week, through its diverse cultural character. “Unlike European partners where national cultural similarities may prevail, South Africa presents a distinct cultural landscape of 12 official languages, enriching the learning experience for visiting students. Furthermore, the exchange of technical knowledge between international and South African students ensures a mutually beneficial learning environment.” 

To break the ice, through interactive networking sessions students are encouraged to share their cultural experiences and perspectives, facilitating mutual understanding and collaboration. The BusIT Week typically sees around 15 to 20 international students visiting South Africa, with an additional 30-plus South African students on average participating. “With a focus on SDGs, students will employ IoT to revolutionise food rescue efforts, aiming to optimise the achievement of SDGs.” 

Venter says that past endeavours have contributed to a deeper understanding of systems and their real-world applications. For this event’s topic, he outlines the role of IoT technology in addressing challenges faced by aquaponic systems. “By installing IoT devices on these systems, students aim to monitor and optimise their functionality, ultimately enhancing their sustainability and resilience.” 

This work will result in the development of prototypes for the gathering of data and analysis facilitated by IoT technology, including on crop performance and water quality, with students empowered to make informed decisions for system optimisation and future iterations. 

“Students should seize this opportunity for international exposure and transformative experience. They stand to gain multifaceted benefits from their BusIT Week experience. Beyond technical proficiency, the initiative fosters peer learning and cultural exchange, enriching students’ understanding of international collaboration and diverse perspectives. As students immerse themselves in this cross-cultural environment, they not only broaden their horizons but also develop essential skills for global citizenship and professional growth.” 

By actively engaging in initiatives like BusIT Week, students can unlock new horizons and shape a brighter future for themselves and their communities. 

ABOUT BELGIUM CAMPUS ITVERSITY NPC

Belgium Campus is a South Africa-based pioneering ITversity in South Africa that helps raise the bar in private education in the ICT industry. The higher education institution collaborates with the industry to provide students with the financial support necessary to forge successful futures. Well-established and renowned, it has campuses in Pretoria, Kempton Park, and a newly opened campus in Stellenbosch. Its success stems from a Participative Development Model of Education which accounts for the needs of students, industry, academia, government, and society alike, resulting in demand-driven, student-centred, and business-focused higher learning.