UFH Research Week of Excellence gets underway

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The annual Research Week of Excellence (RWE) 13-16 November, at the University of Fort Hare (UFH) is in full swing following an opening ceremony where the key address was delivered by Distinguished Professor of Education at Stellenbosch University and President of the Academy of Science of South Africa, Prof Jonathan Jansen.

In a frank and insightful address, Prof Jansen spoke on the theme: "Becoming a research-focused institution" and shared seven cardinal points on how the University can reach this goal.

“But first you must convince the public that you have a stable and secure University before getting to being ‘research-focused’ and be honest,” he urged.

Some of the key points Prof Jansen highlighted was the building of a strong research culture led from the top, attracting to top scholars and establishing direct reporting lines to the top scholars, such as the Vice-Chancellor and the DVC for Research, Partnership and Innovation.

In his welcome address, Vice-Chancellor Prof Sakhela Buhlungu described the week-long event as one of the highlight events at the University. “This is a time where we meet, we court and reflect on who we are and what brings us together.”

The VC urged all UFH scholars, especially those in senior levels, to publish their work, “because if you do not publish, how do you profess your work?” He commended the scholars that have been publishing their work.

Dr Nthabi Taole-Mjimba, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Partnerships and Innovation noted that there is shift and improvement in the research space much as there are areas that need be strengthened.

The opening ceremony was followed by parallel thematic session where scholars from five of the university's six faculties presented their research.

Day two will be dedicated to Postgraduate Studies. The postgraduate conference will start with a keynote presentation by Dr. Jill M. Humphries, an assistant professor and part-time instructor for the University of Toledo’s Africana Studies Program.

The opening session will be followed by two panel discussions, Postdoctoral Research Fellows Panel and Postgraduate Students Panel. After the panel discussions, there will be three parallel streams of oral presentations.

Day three will be focused on Intellectual Property and Innovation, and the main aim will be to foster innovative research that leads to commercializable inventions.

UFH researchers, UFH students, representatives of our external funders and collaborators that include Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO), Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) and other stakeholders will participate in the event. The programme will end with an exhibition of UFH inventions and technology.

Day four will be the crowning of the week when the Vice Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Research and Innovation will be held. This ceremony is aimed at recognizing excellence in research and innovation. For excellence in research, there will be two categories, which are (a) VC’s Emerging Researcher Awards and (b) VC’s Senior Researcher Awards. For excellence in innovation, there will also be two categories, namely, (i) Most Innovative Research Medal, and (ii) Most Innovative Prototype Developed Medal.

Additional highlights of this event are the recognition of newly NRF-rated researchers and the launch of the 2023 Research Report.