‘Now that DRUSSA Universities have completed their two-year review process they are poised to make substantive changes to their research uptake and research uptake management capacity’, says programme manager Karrine Sanders.
Evidence-based decision-making is critical to development policy. Policymakers and development practitioners need good scientific evidence about the causes of problems, the potential solutions to these problems and their impact – sub Saharan African universities are key contributors of contextualized and relevant scientific evidence.
The role of the Universities
The DRUSSA Universities are determined to ensure that the research produced within their institutions is applied to solve the issues identified in institutional, national and continental development agendas. Since the launch of the project, these universities have taken part in a series of activities designed to identify and facilitate strengthening of organizational structures and capacity. The purpose has been to ensure that the research produced by their institution is more accessible and useable, and can be a key resource for policy makers, people working in development, and beneficiaries of evidence-based practice.
“The DRUSSA Universities are determined to ensure that the research produced within their institutions is applied to solve the issues identified in institutional, national and continental development agendas.”
Good collaboration into good practice
With a view to developing their Research Uptake good practice statements and action plans, the universities have exchanged ideas and experiences across and within institutions, through benchmarking surveys and workshops, interdepartmental seminars and focus groups, formal training sessions, as well as open online discussions.
The universities have now not only developed a series of good practice statements used to assess common and individual institutional needs and priorities, but each university has also developed their individual plan for embedding processes that will strengthen structures and capacity within their own university.Although activities may be different in each university, they have focused on four common points for organizational change to occur: strategy, processes, skills and results. Each has prioritized specific areas to develop, depending on the priorities at their university.
Key principles of fundamental importance to the Universities
At the recent Leadership and Benchmarking Conference held in Cape Town in March it was clear from discussions that further key principles were of fundamental importance.
Making the best use of the structures, processes, skills and capacity that are already in place;
Ownership by each university of the change process – the role of the appointed DRUSSA Leader and champions is critical to driving success;
Importance of acknowledging the differences, challenges and desired changes in each university;
Fostering an enabling environment that will support learning within and across universities.
What this means for the project is that special effort will be put into promoting a strong systemic and cultural base for the recognition of the value of Research Uptake, and to promoting collaboration within and across the universities.
With the second half of the project focused on the universities’ consolidating change, the DRUSSA team will continue to offer support both to leadership and operational levels as they work towards reaching goals and delivering results. This will be provided through tailored assistance and support for coordinated learning. The project will also provide support to the universities to monitor and evaluate the changes they have identified in their plans.
“With the second half of the project focused on the universities’ consolidating change, the DRUSSA team will continue to offer support both to leadership and operational levels as they work towards reaching goals and delivering results.”
More practical learning tools and training materials
The existing MPhil, PhD degrees and short courses in knowledge utilisation that have been developed for the DRUSSA universities will continue to be available from CREST [link to CREST outline of the degree http://sun025.sun.ac.za/portal/page/portal/Arts/CREST/DRUSSA] .
In addition, prior to and during the project, a range of resources, learning and insight that inform approaches to strengthening university capacity to promote and manage Research Uptake has been amassed. These will be evaluated and used to develop a series of practical learning tools and training materials that will support the demand for research uptake management (RUM) capacity-building at operational level. The tools and materials will supplement the existing online resources in ‘RUM in Action’ and ‘Tools and Tips’ on www.drussa.net. It’s anticipated that these practical tools and training materials will be available for general use under a Creative Commons license.
Association of Commonwealth Universities
My question is what makes institutional change sustainable? What do you think?