VC thanks NRF-rated researchers for overall contribution to UP’s research output

Posted on June 06, 2019

The University of Pretoria (UP) Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof Tawana Kupe, thanked researchers who are rated by the National Research Foundation (NRF) at levels A, B and C for their contribution to the University’s overall research output, at two recent events.

The events were attended by researchers from all faculties and some members of the Executive. Prof Kupe told researchers that UP had the largest number of rated researchers in the country. “Over the years the University has been the largest producer of research outputs as defined by the Department of Higher Education and Training. What is remarkable is that the staff-student ratio is not what it should be. How is it that the people with the highest staff-student ratios produce the most research outputs? It speaks to efficiencies.”

The NRF promotes and supports research through funding, human resource development and the provision of necessary research facilities to facilitate knowledge creation, innovation and development in science and technology. While it has cut grants to researchers – due to budgetary constraints by the then Department of Science and Technology – it is still funding postgraduate and post-doctoral students to create the next generation of researchers. “Research cuts by the NRF affect the future of research,” the vice-chancellor said.

According to Prof Kupe, the University was looking at providing better resources and facilities in its pursuit of high quality research. “Keep at improving the quality of your research and we will also keep at it from our side.”

Prof Marina Bosman, Department of Afrikaans and Linguistics; Prof Elsabé Taljaard, African Languages; Prof Tawana Kupe, Dr Clorinadi Panebianco, Department of Music and Prof Cheryl McCrindle, Faculty of Health Sciences

The vice-chancellor said researchers needed to win competitive grants and had to be able to write good quality grant proposals. He also said it was his responsibility to devote time to add more resources to the University’s coffers, beyond state grants. “I am working on a proposal on fundraising that I will put to Council,” he said.  

The University also needs to raise funds for postgraduate scholarships, as well as bring in top researchers from across the world. “We need to forge strategic partnerships with people who will be able to raise funds. Collaborations with research partners increase citations and raise visibility. We need to be careful about who we partner with and what they bring to the party,” said Prof Kupe.

UP also needs to fund doctoral and postdoctoral students to feed into its pipeline of researchers.

Prof Kupe thanked researchers for being the “kind of researchers they are”. “Stay with us. Get to know your peers. We need to appreciate ourselves as a very strong research community of value to South Africa, Africa and the world,” he said.

Prof Mmantsae Moche Diale, NRF SARChI Chair in Clean and Green Energy; Prof  André Ganswindt, Director, Mammal Research Institute; Prof Tawana Kupe; Dr Ruth Aluko, Unit for Distance Education and Prof Christopher Isike, Department of Political Science 

Researchers in turn said they were impressed that Prof Kupe had hosted such an event. “It is innovative and impressive,” said Prof Daniel Bradlow, South African Research Chair Initiative (SARChI) Professor of International Development Law and African Economic Relations. “I had no idea how highly research-productive the University is. This is a great initiative.”

“An event like this builds bridges. It is comforting to know the CEO of this organisation thinks of us,” said Prof Christopher Isike of the Department of Political Science.  

Other researchers called on UP to run proposal writing workshops as a form of support.


- Author Primarashni Gower

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