|CPUT Research & Technology Innovation blueprint: Aligning with RU|
|Wednesday, 20 November 2013 00:00|
In general, higher education institutions (HEIs) in South Africa have operated around three key pillars, namely teaching, research and community engagement. As an emerging university of technology, the Cape Peninsula University of Technology has made great strides towards nurturing and building its research and technology innovation portfolio since its inception in 2005. Hence, it is well versed with the various elements of research practice and the management thereof, with pockets of excellence across the university.
One of the key indicators of the effectiveness of a university is its research output. For decades, academic researchers have been spurred by the publish or perish imperative. Consequently, the balance of forces, from a research effort perspective, has generally been inequitably skewed towards the goal of academic publishing, with less effort toward the goal of ensuring the uptake of research output.
Over recent years, the parameters related to the practice of research among HEIs have widened. South Africa`s National Development Plan is critical of the higher education system for its "poor knowledge production that often does not translate into innovation". However, as a university of technology, one of our strengths is our formidable partnerships with the world of work and industry, which is a hallmark of our teaching and learning programmes. As such, our research activity has been biased towards an applied focus, and is generally characterised by research outcomes that lean towards solutions to real-world, practical problems. This, in turn, has ensured that we are better oriented to address the innovation chasm, which is a critical foundation of our distinctiveness.
Given this background, CPUT has adopted a 10-year strategic plan. Vision 2020 seeks, inter alia, to strengthen research and foreground innovation and best practices effectively across the institution. In terms of this, the CPUT vision "to be at the heart of technology education and innovation in Africa" is firmly entrenched in our tactical and operational processes.
Following this, and after a year of intensive discussion and consultation, we also adopted a 10-year plan for Research and Technology Innovation (RTI) in November last year. Our RTI blueprint underpins Vision 2020, and supports our transition from a good towards a great university of technology. The blueprint is underpinned by six strategic imperatives, namely excellence, strategic partnerships, unlocking staff and student potential, service and research uptake, multidisciplinary RTI focus areas, and continuous measurement and evaluation.
Furthermore, the blueprint identifies seven focus areas for research. These were arrived at by juxtaposing CPUT`s current areas of strength against an analysis of key regional, national and international policies, including, inter alia, South Africa`s National Development Plan, African Union development objectives and the Millennium Development Goals. It is in this context that the RTI blueprint provides a strategic framework within which we seek to produce research and innovation that is relevant and aligned to the needs of the region, country, continent and the world.
CPUT`s inauguration into the DRUSSA programme has therefore been timely, given the close alignment of its objectives with the strategic imperatives of our RTI. The DRUSSA objective is an important component of our RTI agenda, and the launch and benchmarking exercise in Johannesburg, together with the subsequent DRUSSA programme of action, have had a strong bearing on the way we have crafted our blueprint, while the notions of Research Uptake and the management thereof feature prominently in the document.
Prof Shaun Pather is the Head: Strategic Initiatives in the office of the DVC: Research, Technology Innovation & Partnerships and a DRUSSA Champion at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology