Vice-Chancellor announces further R5.9 million fundingDate Released: Thu, 24 May 2012 16:59 +0200
The Sandisa Imbewu Fund, a R12.5 million funding programme was launched this week. The Fund aims at increasing postgraduate numbers and research areas at Rhodes University
Addressing the audience, Rhodes University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Saleem Badat said the fund’s name aptly reflects Rhodes University’s strategy to grow its postgraduate student numbers, research and development programmes and to multiply its postgraduate and research outputs to establish itself as the ‘Scholarly University’. “It’s important to give attention to broadening the base of research and developing new areas of research, as well as extending current areas,” he said.
Dr Badat said proposals were ranked within their respective faculties for their potential to contribute towards faculty strategies for research and postgraduate development. Other factors such as the project’s scholarly value, sustainability and potential for attracting additional funding were considered. “All the proposals were worthy of funding but for budgetary constraints we had to choose only nine,” he added.
He said overcoming the problem of a lack of funding has meant that the University can now explore new areas, which Dr Badat believes is key to establishing Rhodes University as a leader in scholarly practise.
“New initiatives at Rhodes couldn’t always be pursued effectively because of a dearth of funding,” he said, adding that the initial funding provided by the fund should be used to leverage additional sources of funding.
He also announced that the Board of Governors has made a further R5.9 million available for funding, which will be open for proposals until July 2012. “I’m hoping these programmes we are funding are going to be a success and bring in postgraduate students, enhance research and create a virtual spiral that will allow us to support more research and postgraduates in the future,” he said.
According to Professor Heila Lotz-Sistika, whose project Environmental Learning, Agency and Societal Change: Educational Implications was selected for funding said, “It is amazing that one’s university can provide the space for you to grow. This is what the Sandisa Imbewu Fund is doing. It allows us to consolidate, synthesise and upscale our research. It is allowing us a reflective space and I can’t thank the university enough for that.”
Professor Robert van Niekerk of the Institute for Social and Economic Research’s Understanding health reform and policy implementation in a democratic South Arica: the medical professions’ response to the proposal for a universal system of health care, said the funding will be well utilised at a time when the future of health care is crucial and uncertain.
Professor Nelson Torto, representing the Chemistry department’s Nanofiber colorimetric diagnostic probes for biological and environmental samples project, said the fund “allows researchers the freedom to think innovatively with an emphasis on quality rather than on coming up with answers”.
Following the recommendation by Rhodes University’s Vice-Chancellor Dr Saleem Badat to establish a seed fund for strategic new academic initiatives, the Rhodes University Board of Governors with the support of the University Council endorsed the creation of the Sandisa Imbweu Fund in November 2010. In 2011 nine out of 30 project proposals submitted by Rhodes University academics were selected for funding to the value of R12.5 million collectively over the next five years.
The nine funded projects include:
1) Professor Heila Lotz-Sistika and colleagues: Environmental Learning, Agency and Societal Change: Educational Implications.
2) Professor Martin Villet and colleagues from Science and Law: UPANDO UBUNGQINA: Master’s Degree in Forensic Science and Expert Evidence.
3) Professor Rosemary Dorrington, Professor William Foneman and colleagues: Development of a multidisciplinary research platform in aquatic sciences.
4) Dr Nicole Richoux and colleagues from various Science departments and SAIAB: Connectivity through allochthony: reciprocal links between adjacent terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in South Africa.
5) Professor Nelson Torto and colleagues in Chemistry: Nanofiber colorimetric diagnostic probes for biological and environmental samples.
6) Professor Janice Limson on behalf of the RU School of Biotechnology: Unlocking the future of biotechnology at Rhodes.
7) Professor Robert van Niekerk and colleagues: Understanding health reform and policy implementation in a democratic South Arica: the medical professions’ response to the proposal for a universal system of health care.
8) Professor Lynette Louw and colleagues in Management: Chinese Organisations in sub-Saharan Africa: New Dynamics, New Synergies.
9) A Community Engagement/Pharmacy collaboration led by Professor Sunitha Srinivas and Ms Diana Hornby : Maternal and Child Health: Assessment, Community educational intervention and Evaluation.
By Sarah-Jane Bradfield
Photo: Adrian Frost