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1 March 2017
DRUSSA Vice-Chancellors Support Permanent Research Uptake Capacity Print
Monday, 13 July 2015 10:24

The report on the Vice Chancellors seminar held in May is now available. It contains findings and recommendations for DRUSSA university decision-makers that emerged from the discussions at the Seminar.

The seminar was a key opportunity to discuss on-going and new approaches, and to share experiences and priorities. The finding and recommendations of the post-event report focus on the development of cross-cutting functional support mechanisms, human capacity, and viable policy frameworks for institutionalised Research Uptake capacity.

 

Sustainability

A fundamental goal for all of the universities involved in DRUSSA is consolidating institutional capacity beyond the lifetime of the programme. Thus a dominant theme in discussions at the Vice Chancellors’ Leadership Seminar was sustainability: the challenge of maintaining  pre-existing capacity and consolidating current changes to sustain the capacity.

 

Benchmarking Capacity

The data gathered from the three benchmarking exercises are valuable tools to establish where changes are taking place within each university over the five years of the programme. The reports identify where strengths and challenges lie and share good practice examples from other DRUSSA universities.

"the individual university Research Uptake Action Plans are the drivers for change over the remainder of the programme"

Research Uptake Plans

Philippe Mawoko, Executive Secretary, African Observatory for Science, Technology and Innovation (AOSTI)

On an institutional basis, the individual university Research Uptake Action Plans are the drivers for change over the remainder of the programme. Each outlines a realistic set of goals and indicators specific to the university’s particular context. It was agreed that it is important for executive management to be aware of the broad goals of their institution’s Action Plan, and to consider if the Action Plan methodology is a useful approach to continue the focus of research uptake initiatives at the university post-DRUSSA.

 

Staffing

Each university has a core group of staff engaged in Research Uptake activities linked to the Action Plans. The report observes that that support from executive management (Vice Chancellor level) is key to enabling Research Uptake staff to progress towards institutional targets.

 

Skills

Most, if not all, of the Action Plans call for activities that depend upon university staff with research uptake and RUM training and expertise, and establishment of structural support, whether this is through setting up a Knowledge Transfer Office or Research Uptake Communications Unit, the development and delivery of research uptake training for colleagues, or the creation and maintenance of a Research Uptake good practice guide for staff. University nominated persons who have been supported by DRUSSA bursaries and/or no-cost training events have had exposure to and specific skills acquisition in addressing some or all of these issues. It will be important for the universities to leverage the skills and knowledge of these individuals while carrying out their Action Plans, and so safeguard the sustainability of the university’s Research Uptake activities.

"As university management now have a high level of commitment for Research Uptake activity, awareness needs to extend across a wider cross-section of university functions"

Building a Research Uptake culture

Leaders highlighted the issue of training as an area of activity to take forward, noting that an increased awareness of, and support for, Research Uptake is needed throughout the university’s constituencies. As university management now have a high level of commitment for Research Uptake activity, awareness needs to extend across a wider cross-section of university functions. University leaders identified Research Uptake learning modules, embedding Research Uptake practices into human resources activities, unconventional promotion procedures and job descriptions as targeted avenues for furthering Research Uptake awareness and expertise at their institutions.

 

Building Networks

The leaders recommended that shared experiences of DRUSSA universities, in terms of training, tools and the development of expertise networks, provide the ideal conditions for sustainable, inter-university collaboration in a post-DRUSSA environment. Efforts should be made to continue such relationships. In addition all delegates recognised the benefit of functional structures and skilled and committed human capacity so that universities can further develop sustainable links with external stakeholders who have a role in successful Research Uptake. Key stakeholders identified were journalists, industry representatives, government policy makers and the general public.

As noted by Dr John Kirkland, the Deputy Secretary General of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) and DRUSSA project Leader, the programme has now reached the stage where it can report significant progress. Over the next 18 months further progress will be made and DRUSSA universities are well-placed to continue to consolidate their Research Uptake activities and contribute to heightening the developmental role of their institutions in national development priorities.


Liam Roberts is a Programme Officer (Policy) at the Association of Commonwealth Universities

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