UFH leads R2.25m national joint research project on cyber-infrastructure

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The University of Fort Hare’s Faculty of Management and Commerce is at the helm of a groundbreaking study into the utilisation and accessibility of cyber-infrastructure within historically disadvantaged institutions (HDI’s).

The research project is spearheaded by Professor Willie Chinyamurindi, HOD for the Business Management Department at UFH. It is funded by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to the tune of R2.25 million over a three-year period. The project is in partnership with the University of Limpopo, University of Venda, University of Western Cape, University of Zululand and Walter Sisulu University.

On 19 and 20 May the Faculty hosted a workshop on the East London Campus to officially launch the joint venture. In attendance were academics from the partnering institution, two UFH PhD candidates and four Masters candidates whose research will be funded by the project. The academics shared a wealth of information with the candidates, including advice on scholarly writing and how to avoid plagiarism.

Prof Chinyamurindi said the project will look into data environments that support the management, storage, acquisition and visualisation of information.

 “The study is a response to the CSIR’s call to look into the field of human-computer interaction and to enhance that interaction.  Through this project, we intend to find ways to advance the use of technology to improve society. The study will investigate issues of access and the historical legacies that we have in our present-day challenges – that is where the HDI discussion has taken centre stage. Our priority is around enhancing aspects related to national dynamic capabilities.”

According to Prof Chinyamurindi, the benefits of the study go beyond the collaborating institutions and the funded students. “Not only is this a great opportunity for our students and our higher education institutions, but it is also an opportunity to invite other sectors, such as the business forum to work with us on this project.”

The Dean for the Faculty of Management and Commerce, Dr Ntombovuyo Wayi said the project has placed HDI’s at the forefront of cyber tech research. “This project is the gateway to start engagements on cyber technology. We are honoured to be part of the initiative.”

Speaking on behalf of the funder, Dr Happy Marumo Sithole who is the Centre Manager for the National Integrated Cyber-Infrastructure Initiative (NICIS) said the council had received several applications for funding and only four were selected.

 “The fact that this proposal was selected indicates that there something special about it, it is visionary. We are excited about this project. It will lead us to a position where we can influence policy to transform HDI’s into Future Enabled Institutions (FEI’s)," said Dr Sithole.