LRM EXPORT 296115961021239 20191016 121507773 300x226Walter Sisulu University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Academic Affairs and Research (DVC-AAR), Prof. Rushiela Songca was recently recognised as one of South Africa’s most established researchers by the National Research Foundation (NRF).

According to the NRF, the level “C” rating bestowed on WSU’s DVC is allocated primarily based on the quality and impact of their research outputs over the past eight years, taking into consideration the evaluation made by local and international peers.

Songca’s academic success should come as no surprise being that she was coddled under the strong backings of her academic parents.

“I always wanted to be an academic. I am fascinated by ideas and engaging with phenomena. Moreover, I am passionate about contributing to the general well-being of society through education. I thus have always known that I was a teacher at heart,” said Songca.

However, her learned parents could not have prepared her enough for the gender biases of the world faced by women in academia. Obstacles she has had to learn to navigate with wits and diligence.

“Challenges faced by women are multi-faceted. Women have to juggle work and family. Being a woman and surviving as one is mostly determined by others and measured against societies perceptions/expectations, therefore women find themselves having to navigate these predetermined notions and expectations,” said Songca.

“Fortunately,” she added, “over the years we have gotten used to setting our own agenda/rules of engagement, hence we learnt to exert our own authority and agency. Regardless, inequalities are manifold and glaring, hence the struggle for women self-determination still rages on,” she added.

The NRF rating system is a key driver in the NRF’s aim to build a globally competitive science system in South Africa. It is a valuable tool for benchmarking the quality of our researchers against the best in the world.

The ratings that are awarded fall within the following categories:

  • A – Leading international researchers
  • B – Internationally acclaimed researchers
  • C – Established researchers
  • P – Prestigious Awards
  • Y – Promising young researchers

WSU Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Rob Midgley said WSU was working hard to solidify the base of its academic plan and aspirations.

“As of 2015 to date, WSU has increased its research by a significant 145%. Though substantial, the number still remains very low in the broader scheme of things. With all this improvement must come caution however. Researchers must ensure they publish with reputable publications and avoid unfamiliar publications,” he said.

Midgley said that WSU has also made numerous doctoral appointments when it comes to lecturers as a way of getting the skeleton of WSU’s academic enterprise to shape up.