Local, Regional and National Collaboration
Collaboration within the university is encouraged and the “Rhodes Environment” is conducive to this. The number of multidisciplinary research and interest groups including cross faculty groups are growing partly as a result of national funding pressure to increase collaborative multidisciplinary research. Regional collaborative research, particularly between HEIs has not been a strong feature of research at Rhodes primarily due to a lack of experience at other institutions in the fields in which Rhodes has expertise. However, one initiative which arose out of a recent review of associated Research Institutes will be the appointment of a Research Professor to initiate research programmes in the social sciences in the Eastern Cape in collaboration with the Eastern Cape Government and other bodies in the region. The University has also provided support for other regional research initiatives by research units such as the ISER, ISEA, PSAM and CADRE as well as academic departments, the benefits of which are the dissemination of the resulting research findings to the relevant communities in terms of, for example, a better understanding and counselling on issues of poverty and HIV-AIDS, a greater awareness of accountability amongst public officials and an improvement in written, verbal and practical mathematical and laboratory skills amongst secondary school teachers.
An international quality review of the university in 2001 highlighted the need for an International Office to foster international collaboration amongst other initiatives. This resulted in expansion of the International Offices activities and the appointment of a Dean: International Office. The Research Office works closely with the International Office in fostering these international links and a number of “genuine” exchange and co-operative projects with institutions in the USA, UK, Europe and Australia have been established. However, it is recognized the international research collaboration is often driven by individuals. As indicated in previous sections, the University provides funding for international conference and study leave travel for its staff in addition to limited support to bring international scholars to Rhodes through a number of fellowship schemes.
Affiliates, Institutes and Units
Rhodes University has 20 affiliated research institutes and units and 3 associated but independent research institutes (SAIAB, NELM, Albany Museum). Most of these research units have arisen out of specialized research activities in academic departments which grew to a point where a separate institute or unit was warranted. Approval for the establishment of an institute or unit requires Senate and Council approval and is dependant on resource implications and the need for a unit to focus on areas of research strength which align with the University’s research focus. The DVC: R&D and senior university staff serve on the Boards of the institutes and in many cases the DVC: R&D is the Chairman of the Board. Formal agreements (eg MOU’s) between the institutes and the University exist in a number of cases.
As with academic departments internal institutes are regularly reviewed simply to ensure that their research and vision continues to be aligned with that of the University and to review the University’s continued support particularly in terms of staffing and other resources.
The role of the research institutes has proved to be a very important one at Rhodes. They compliment and add significant value to the University’s research activities and profile. Many of them in their own right have a very high national and international standing. They also make important contributions to many community projects and University committees.