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23 September 2017
Shifts in science policy, the new university, and its role Print
Defining the Field
Thursday, 09 April 2015 17:23

This is the last blog in a series of five which review essays that together comprise a literature review on Perspectives and themes in knowledge utilisation, conducted for the DRUSSA programme by CREST at the University of Stellenbosch. The other blogs, with links to the essays can be found at the bottom of this blog. The review, which will soon be coming out in book form, will appeal to students, academics, policy makers, communication practitioners and those involved in the field of Research Uptake.

The relations between industry, government and academia have shifted over the years and the theoretical frameworks and paradigms to study the changing context provide an interesting background to the rationale proposed for the application and utilization of knowledge generated by universities.

The conditions under which universities are attempting to accomplish their threefold mission of teaching, research and engagement with key stakeholder institutions so as to contribute to social and economic development has a significant impact on the institutional form, structure and character of universities.

This essay, Shifts in science policy and the new university paradigm, reviews the evolution of the science to policy context and explains what this entails for universities – especially in low and middle income countries, where there is an emphasis at many universities on teaching, limited resources for research, and important social and economic issues to deal with.

Within the context of a global recognition of the importance of Research Uptake and the contribution that universities can make in providing evidence to inform policy, the conditions under which universities are attempting to accomplish their threefold mission of teaching, research and engagement with key stakeholder institutions to contribute to social and economic development, has a significant impact on the institutional form, structure and character of universities.

A host of developments such as the digital revolution, globalisation and shifts in public policy all exert pressure on institutions, especially in terms of raising funding to drive the transformation of the higher education system worldwide.

“how best to respond to the existing challenges to university and region, i.e. lack of funding, brain drain, time constraints of staff, exclusion, low GDP environments, and a poor understanding of science in the external environment”

The concluding section of the essay focuses on considering how these developments are impacting on African universities. We argue that the establishment of sufficient research capacity to supply research findings that are relevant for policy is still an on-going activity in many universities, with a consequent low capacity to influence policy. A key question going forward is “how best to respond to the existing challenges to the university and region, i.e. lack of funding, brain drain, time constraints of staff, exclusion, low GDP environments, and a poor understanding of science in the external environment”.

The full essay can be found here and the introduction to the series here

 

Essay 2 Traditions of Knowledge Utilisation and the most influential models

Essay 3 Knowledge to Policy

Essay 4 Stakeholder Engagement

Essay 5 Science Communication


Dr Sara Grobbelaar is a senior researcher at the Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST) at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa
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