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Change the world


The first day of the inaugural Nelson Mandela University Research Week focused on creating equity and inclusivity in research programmes.

Introducing the session, Nelson Mandela University Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Internationalisation Dr Thandi Mgwebi set the tone for the day, highlighting that inclusity and equity in transformation has positive ripples on communities, "The research that we do needs to take the principles of equal access into account. People should have the same opportunities to succeed despite past injustices or systemic discrimination."

Speaking on the department's priorities and societal grand challenges, Deputy Director-General at the Department of Science and Innovation Imraan Patel said the basic sciences framework and open science framework requires research skills. "Our plans for the next decade don't underplay the importance of the core enabling conditions, such as human capital development which must be developed."

Dr Aldo Stroebel, NRF strategic planning and partnerships, highlighted partnering with universities to advance the NRF'a strategy 2030. He added that stakeholders includng the NRF and universities should work together to make better use of available funds "Almost R1-billion is returned by universities to the DHET unspent, yet there are 8000 fundable postgraduate students who need R1.2-billion who cannot be funded. It's not the absence or shortage of funding. It is the positioning, distribution, and consolidation of that funding to focus on the right aspects for inclusivity and performance."

Dr Heidi Hackman, director of Future Africa highlighted the importance of cooperation between disciplines to remove barriers to inclusivity. "The issue is the absence of a common language across disciplines. There's institutional inertia in breaking down silos and the way we assess, and reward research does not always encourage inter-disciplinarity."

Speaking on funding opportunities and international exchanges for postgraduate students and emerging researchers, Nelson Mandela University's strategic resource mobilisation and advancement Dr Sibongile Sowazi said donors' interest was skewed towards undergraduate students. "Over the past five years, we have raised about R500-million and supported about 10,000 students. But only R50-million has been mobilised for post-graduate students because the interest of donors is under-grad."

Ms Ntokozo Kunene, human and infrastructure capacity development at NRF said their new policy was geared towards equity and inclusivity, prioritising Black, financially needy and female postgraduate students. "NRF's new policy now prioritises funding full-time studies. We are working with NSFAS to prioritise students who were funded by NSFAS for their undergraduate degree."

Recordings of each days' sessions can be found on our YouTube channel:

Contact information
Ms Zandile Mbabela
Media Manager
Tel: 0415042777