|Wednesday, 19 February 2014 20:00|
The DRUSSA benchmarking and leadership event in March will mark the half-way point for the DRUSSA project. So it is a good time to consider what has been achieved, and to announce the priorities for the next two-and-a-half years.
DRUSSA can already claim to have succeeded in pushing Research Uptake Management up the Sub-Saharan African universities’ development research agenda. A new MPhil and PhD specialisation, Research Uptake and Utilisation in Science and Technology Studies is a core offering from the Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST) at the University of Stellenbosch.
Research Uptake case studies have been commissioned that will help pinpoint key determinants of success and failure in getting research into use.
DRUSSA is on the agenda of the key research and innovation management associations and research networks in Africa and, thanks to an extension to the scope of the project, there is a new strand of work with policymakers. In short, the project is well and truly firing on all cylinders!
The main purpose of the project is to support institutional change in the DRUSSA universities. The second of three benchmarking surveys is currently underway. The responses demonstrate that changes are happening. Following internal stakeholder meetings in 23 of the 24 partner institutions, different functions within each of the universities’ are collaborating effectively. Some new structures are emerging (see Progress at the University of Nairobi and the University of Fort Hare Research Uptake Policy Going Strong)—others are in the planning stage.
Ensuring long-term, sustainable change within the universities’ structures and capacity will be our main focus for the next two-and-a-half years. There will be more opportunities for universities to learn from and support one another. From April, we will be facilitating “communities of practice” so that the teams working on key areas such as communications, training and research management can communicate directly.
Each DRUSSA university will have a liaison officer in the project to help them pursue their individual action plans. And we hope to extend Research Uptake Management training opportunities—beyond the successful formal academic and in-service training already available through CREST at the University of Stellenbosch—to other offerings, and through new modes of delivery.
The second phase begins with the DRUSSA universities’ benchmarking meeting in Cape Town next month. It is the perfect opportunity to compare progress and cement the foundations for an ambitious expansion of activity over the next phase.
Dr John Kirkland is the DRUSSA Lead and Deputy Secretary General of the Association of Commonwealth Universities