Sunday, January 24, 2021

UB gears for transformation to a research intensive university

The University of Botswana has made a commitment to become a research intensive university that is internationally recognized for the volume, quality and impact of its research by 2012.

This was revealed by Vice Chancellor Bojosi Otlhogile at the recent annual research awards held at UB.

Otlhogile said that research is part of UB’s long term strategy, and the institution has over time undertaken initiatives that drive them towards their roadmap, among them increasing budget on research and developing and approving a research strategy, which will give direction to both the institution and staff.

“Every appointment, promotion and review of senior staff members consider their contribution to research and other related skills. Another incentive for research is the research leave that was recently introduced,” added Otlhogile.

The current expansion of academic facilities at UB is also geared towards supporting research and exploration of knowledge in a variety of fields of study. Otlhogile said they believe that intensifying research will transform undergraduate teaching and learning the same way that new technology has done.
“It will not be done for the sake of researching only. People will be involved in research that will mould lives and contribute to the socio-economic development of the country,” he said.

De Beers Chief Executive Officer, Sheila Khama, added that the issue of industry and university partnerships in research and innovation is important in that, by collaborating with universities, industries provide data for the research while the universities unveil their resources. Khama also said that academics should research more because industries are always looking to fund researchers who have made a name for themselves. However, said Khama, universities are always adamant that the professional work demanded by the funding should not compromise their intellectual independence.

“Universities want to affiliate with successful brands and look for creative talent,” she said.

On the other hand, industries also want to own and secure knowledge, such that they also expect something from funding the university. She gave an example of her company, De Beers, which she said provides funding for research in projects like establishment of HOORC in Maun, the school of Biology and the department of taxes. But DeBeers primarily conducts research in diamonds with emphasis on strategic advances and ownership of intellectual rights.

For his part, the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Frank Youngman, said that they have adopted goals which will transform UB into a reputable research institution within a decade, such as increasing staff members who participate in research. He added that UB intends to increase the number of research students from the current 125 Phd students, so as to enhance student research training.

One most important goal is to increase internal and external research funding. UB’s policy commits to expanding international research cooperation and actions as one of its goals. The main aim of the university research strategy is to increase the volume and quality of research and research outputs.

“But we cannot do it alone, government must help implement the objective to create a knowledge driven economy, and the Tertiary Education Council is developing a funding formula,” he said.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper