International Projects

Wood Products Processing Education Project, South Africa

Between May 2004 and September 2010 the Centre for Advanced Wood Processing undertook an international development project to create educational capacity at Stellenbosch University and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) (both in Western Cape Province, South Africa) to deliver Bachelor of Science, National Diploma, and professional training programs in advanced wood products manufacturing. The project was supported by a $1million grant from Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in addition to in-kind contributions of $750,000 from the participating institutions. The purpose of the project was to alleviate poverty through job creation in small-to-medium size companies (SMEs), as well as improving the competitiveness of South Africa’s value-added wood products sector by encouraging the introduction of new technology and production methods. In doing so, the project was also intended to influence the transition from the export of lumber in an unprocessed form to the export of more highly manufactured products that offer greater socioeconomic benefits to the nation while decreasing environmental pressure on its forests.


  • A suite of eight courses in advanced wood products manufacturing that can be delivered both in a classroom setting and via e-learning
  • Faculty development/training of lecturers at Stellenbosch University and NMMU
  • Development of in-house e-learning expertise at Stellenbosch University
  • Training of marketing/recruiting personnel and creation of promotional literature and electronic media
  • Development of closer links between both institutions and industry to increase program uptake and bursaries and ensure ongoing relevance of curricula
  • Research on best practices in e-learning for South African workplace learners, gender situational analysis of sector
  • Development of links with institutions in West and North Africa to expand reach of educational programs into Africa

Project Successes and Spinoff Benefits

  • R3.8M ($700,000) in additional funding provided to Wood Products Science program by Stellenbosch University
  • Furniture Centre of Competitiveness to be established at Stellenbosch University– 5-year funding from Department of Trade & Industry scheduled to begin in early 2011
  • Undergraduate enrolment numbers increased at Stellenbosch, new Postgraduate Diploma being planned for industry learners
  • Pulp & paper sector is enrolling learners in Stellenbosch courses in preparation for M.Sc. degrees
  • Bursaries and recruiting support of approx. $100,000 provided by SA government
  • Involvement of 25 students at UBC in curriculum development, gender analysis research, co-op placements, student exchange
  • Research collaborations fostered between UBC and Stellenbosch with funding from both SA and Canada
  • Furniture design education program (requested by industry) created with funding of $100,000 from SA national and provincial governments
  • UBC curriculum strengthened and expertise in technology-supported learning developed
  • Strong interest and progress on new capacity-building projects involving UBC, Stellenbosch and partners in Ghana and Morocc