|High Level Buy-In For Research Uptake At KNUST|
|Thursday, 28 January 2016 17:53|
As part of the final year of operation of the DRUSSA programme, a team is undertaking a series of support visits to member universities to make the case for consolidating management of research uptake and promotion of the university research uptake agenda. Prior to 2015 year-end the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) Research Uptake team welcomed the Development Research Uptake in Sub-Saharan Africa (DRUSSA) team .
The programme team met with top management of the university. The meeting was attended by Prof. William Otoo Ellis the Vice Chancellor, Professor Samuel Nii Odai the Pro Vice Chancellor, the Registrar, and the Finance Officer, Provosts of Colleges, College Registrars, Directors and the KNUST DRUSSA leadership. Discussions centered on the priorities and sustainability of Research Uptake (RU) at KNUST.
Prof. William Otoo Ellis in his welcome address thanked the team for their continuous support in helping the University to execute its mandate. He underscored the need for Research Uptake and for communication to all citizens, policy makers and stakeholders in order to make decisions based on evidenced research in finding solutions for sustainable growth.
KNUST’s five-year involvement in the programme has involved activities that facilitated and contributed to research evidence that could be used beyond the academic environment by policymakers, public communities and industry stakeholders. Notable among these is the series of radio talks given by the Vice Chancellor Prof Otoo Ellis.
The critical success indicators of the DRUSSA programme were discussed. These factors, include the completion of the third benchmarking exercise and cross-university sharing of good practice. The resulting report would be shared with university leaders, emphasising the role of leadership in being aware of the value of RU to the university’s broad social partnership goals. Within the university, commitment to continuous improvement of systems and processes to support Research Uptake would be needed. It was noted that the University’s research policy/strategy should include objectives for engagement and communication with the university’s stakeholders.
KNUST recognised the demand and supply actors in the research enterprise. On the demand side it encompassed individual researchers, research boards, public relations officers, libraries, ICT and senior leadership who would drive, identify, produce and coordinate research with potential for application and ensure accessibility of research findings across different media. Accessibility contributes to strengthening relationships with supply side actors and involves external stakeholders such as industry, the community, policy makers who use synthesized and applied research for practical applications.
The main offices at KNUST that are involved in promoting and encouraging supply are the Office of Grants and Research, the Quality Assurance and Planning Unit, The University Library and the University Relations Office, with engagement of the Colleges, Research Centres and the Media.
Benefits from the Programme and Success Stories
Professor Kwasi Obiri-Danso, KNUST DRUSSA leader and Provost of the College of Science, stated that KNUST had received about forty (40) million US dollars from various external organizations to fund research and this had driven the efforts of departments in undertaking research for uptake. He stated that the strengthening Research Uptake capacity was in line with the University’s mission and vision. The RU component fitted into the community or extension service which was a requirement for all academics and one of the criteria for promotion. He said the Vice-Chancellor’s Community Impact Project as well as other initiatives from the departments and research centres were all helping push RU at KNUST.
He revealed that KNUST had successfully incorporated RU into its research strategy and it had been accepted by the Academic Board of the University.
KNUST had benefited immensely from the programme in the form of training in RU and science communication, PhD and post graduate scholarships, workshops, participation in international conferences among others. Through the efforts of the KNUST RU team and allied offices such as the Office of Grants and Research and the University Relations Office, the KNUST Research Report was published.
Other success stories included the Nyansapor Radio Programme on the campus radio station, Focus FM which spearheads the propagation of research news to communities around the university.
Prof Obiri-Danso thanked the DRUSSA Team and all partner and donor agencies on the project who had supported the activities of DRUSSA. He stated that through DRUSSA, the university had been able to incorporate strategies in career progression. RU was now seen as an indicator to rank departments in the university. Currently, there are some postgraduate students who have taken up RU courses and series of workshop programmes that have been organized for staff members.
One Day Training Workshop
As part of the event, a one-day training workshop was organized for Heads of Departments, Research Centres, Academic Staff and Senior Administrators, led by a DRUSSA programme co-ordinator Hannah Halder with the assistance of the KNUST RU Communicators and team members.
Participants were taken through the traditional ways of disseminating research, the current situations in academia and knowledge dissemination, the concept of science communication and the need for science communication as a key part of Research Uptake
Various ideas were given with respect to initiatives in RU, immediate challenges, sustainability of RU and opportunities that exist at KNUST for additional RU support. From the discussion session, it was concluded that there should be workshops involving beneficiaries in which problems and their solutions would be discussed. The team plans to engage the public and students to bring RU projects to the local communities.
Reflections on the KNUST Research Uptake Activities
From discussions with the academics, it is clear that the interest is there especially with the institutional policy and structure and it is promising from the conversations with them. It will be worthwhile to organise RU proposal-writing training workshops for the researchers.
Ms. Hannah Halder commended the KNUST Research Uptake (RU) Team for doing a great job saying “I have to say that the KNUST Research Uptake (RU) Team driven by Vincent and Prof. Obiri Danso has been doing a phenomenal work; the blog, radio programme, the institutional structures put in offers support for RU management. It is really huge and I know that would go a long way for RU. It is amazing to see what has been done, and where its going, that is very promising.”
Vincent A. Ankamh-Lomotey is the Deputy Registrar, University Relations Office and DRUSSA Champion for KNUST.