University of Fort Hare scoops research awards

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It has been a week of research excellence at the University of Fort Hare following the awarding of a National Research Foundation (NRF) Excelleration Award and the  Best Paper Award at the Southern African Institute for Management Scientist (SAIMS) conference.


The University of Fort Hare (UFH) is the proud recipient of the 2019  NRF “Excelleration” Award.

Derived from the words “excellence” and “acceleration”, the Excelleration Award is a well-earned recognition for the University of Fort Hare’s Research Centre which has seen a significant improvement in its research performance in recent years.

The annual NRF Awards recognise and celebrate South African research excellence. The 2019 ceremony was held on 12 September at the Lord Charles Hotel in Somerset West.  The event was attended by, amongst others, Minister and Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Dr Bonginkosi Blade Nzimande  and Mr Buti Manamela as well as former Ministers Dr Ben Ngubane, Mr Derek Hanekom and Mr Mosibudi Mangena.

Professor Pumla Dineo Gqola, Dean of Research, and Director of the Govan Mbeki Research and Development Centre at the University of Fort Hare said the university was thrilled and honoured to be the recipient of the award.

According to her, until about tens years ago, Fort Hare was barely registering on the research rankings and was producing very few PhDs and  research articles.  But that has changed quite significantly. “We now consistently produce a large number of PhDs and Masters graduates.  We have a vibrant and growing community of post-doctoral fellows and researchers in the country, on the continent and beyond”. 

“The award is a well-deserved honour. We continue to aspire to be an even more significant player and contributor to the knowledge production industry.  This is certainly the direction we want to be moving in”,  said Prof Gqola.



A research paper authored by University of Fort Hare's (UFH) Professor Roger Elliott and final year Master’s student, Sipho Mfazi won Best Paper Award at this year's Southern African Institute for Management Scientist (SAIMS) conference.

Titled Reconceptualising cultural groups and their influence on entrepreneurial intention, the paper investigates the extent to which culture influences the intention to become an entrepreneur.

The 31st SAIMS conference was held at the Nelson Mandela University on 8-11 September 2019.  The conference was hosted by the  School of Management Sciences and provided an opportunity for researchers from Southern Africa to share their research and to contribute to the world of management.

This year’s conference was themed “Responsible Management in Disruptive Times”. About 150 papers were submitted from various universities such as Rhodes, University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch, the National University of Lesotho and the Great Zimbabwe University. Of the papers submitted, 60 were accepted as full competitive papers.

At the end of the conference, UFH's paper was selected as the best.

According to Professor Elliott, traditionally, culture has been understood as being synonymous or strongly related to nationality, ethnic group or in the case of South Africa, population group. “We argue that globalization, the movement of people and in particular, the pervasive influence of technology and social media has a profound impact on the values of young people, and how they see the world and behave. As such, the geographic area or societal culture in which they grow up, no longer completely defines their values.”

He said the award vindicates the department’s approach to focus on quality, cutting edge research. “It means that our unique and original contribution to the field of entrepreneurship has been recognized by our peers.”

Sipho Mfazi could barely contain his excitement saying had it not been for Professor Elliott who pushed him to go beyond what he believed was possible, he would have missed this opportunity.  “My relationship with Prof Elliott was more than that of a supervisor and a student.  He was my mentor and supported me all the way. I hope my achievement will inspire township children and prove to them that anything is possible,” said Mfazi.