The merger of historically disadvantaged two technikons and a university within rural South African setting presents a complex historical heritage. In 2005, Border Technikon; Eastern Cape Technikon; and University of Transkei were merged into a comprehensive university: Walter Sisulu University (WSU). Read more about Walter Sisulu University.
The birthed institution is faced with varied existing challenges inherited from the defunct institutions and novel challenges emanating from the merger exercise. The Eastern Cape Province occupies 14% of the land areas of South Africa, and has 12.7% of the country's 51.77 million inhabitants.
Walter Sisulu University is located in the Eastern Cape Province together with University of Fort Hare, Rhodes University and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.
Primarily, WSU serves the people of Eastern Cape Province with strong aspirations for national and international educational leadership standings. WSU is strategically located to serve the deep rural and poorly stricken community of the Eastern Cape.
The University has four campuses: Buffalo City, Ibika, Mthatha and Queenstown with 11 knowledge dispensing sites, with four faculties: Business, Management Sciences and Law, Education, Health Sciences, and Science, Engineering and Technology of which two offer doctoral programmes.
It is committed to advancing the frontiers of research in Eastern Cape, in particular, South Africa and the world at large.
Walter Sisulu University (WSU) will be a leading African comprehensive university focusing on innovative educational, research and community partnership programmes that are responsive to local, regional, and national development priorities, and cognisant of continental and international imperatives.
In pursuit of its vision as a developmental university, WSU will:
- Provide an educationally vibrant and enabling environment conducive to the advancement of quality academic, moral, cultural and technological learner-centred education for holistic intellectual empowerment, growth and effective use of information;
- Prove and maintain the highest possible standards in innovative learning and teaching, applied and community-base research and community partnerships in cooperation with development agencies, the public and private sectors;
- Provide affordable, appropriate, career-focused and professional programmes that address rural development and urban renewal with primary emphasis on science, technology and development studies;
- Create a new generation of highly-skilled graduates capable of understanding and addressing complex societal challenges, with critical scholarly and entrepreneurial attributes grounded on morally sound work ethics and responsible leadership.
To create an enabling environment for staff to conduct both applied and basic research and empower staff and students with research knowledge and skills so that they can:-
- independently initiate quality research projects
- contribute to the existing body of academic knowledge
- conduct a systematic analysis of problems relevant to society
- Walter Sisulu University's efforts in developing an unequivocal research culture through which the
- institution could possibly be catapulted to the forefront of an African developmental university par excellence are recognised.
With strategic projections in place, the institution is positively poised to continually implement changes that promote research culture as it is being developed.
Strategic Projections for Research Development at WSU
- Operational policy documents etc.
- Research documentation services
- Establishing very strong workable relationship with industries
- Working with different communities in solving problems
- Integrating the three tier university research committees
- Aggressive mentoring systems
- Establishing functional research groupings
- Full scale collaboration
- Focusing on elevation researcher ratings, & other recognizable systems.
- Netting and bringing in South African Research Chairs Initiative (SAChls)
- Working with Research Councils
- Establishing Support systems for Graduate Research, Emerging Researcher, and Established Researcher
- Target at least 25% of staff to get NRF rating in accordance with NRF expectations
- Aggressive approach to having NRF research projects through all the available options
- Improve services for Intellectual Property and Patents
- Work on SAPSE publications
- Integrated collaboration with Government departments, agencies and other institutions
- Workshops and seminars
- Professional bodies - ECSA, SAIMM, GSSA, SSSSA, ASSAF, for example.
Strategic Approach for Enhancement of Research at WSU
- Develop a five year research strategic plan for WSU
- Increase number of infrastructures (laboratories, research equipment and instruments) research centres, offices.
- Re-furbish existing research infrastructure, and replace ageing research equipment
- Increase the pool of researchers
- Create a cadre of research technical staff
- Recruit research and academic associates
- Seek more funds from government and international agencies to provide adequate funding for research and research training
- Improve the coordination and relevance of research activities
- Promote research collaboration with industry
- Enhance research outputs
- Enhance WSU staff and students participation in international, regional and national conferences, seminars and workshops
- Encourage applied research focused on community development
- Get WSU research facilities accredited and certified
- Increase the number of contract research activities
Way forward for Research Growth and Development at WSU
- Management, and support the development of research capacity and promotion of research
- Set targets that must be realised within timelines
- Use a combination of strategic management; complexity management; and governance, risks and ethics principles in a project management system approach to accomplish targets
- Staffing is extremely fundamental; researchers must be RISK TAKERS.