Presentation on theme: "Funding for Research: The South African Experience Anthony Jide Afolayan Phytomedicine Research Centre University of Fort Hare, Alice 5700, South Africa."— Presentation transcript:
Funding for Research: The South African Experience Anthony Jide Afolayan Phytomedicine Research Centre University of Fort Hare, Alice 5700, South Africa
Good afternoon. It is a honour to stand before this audience. A lot has been said about research funding in Nigeria. This is a South African experience. I have 15 years experience with the Research Funding in South Africa. Hopefully, we shall be able to compare research funding in both countries after this presentation. I also hope that we may have a couple of lessons to learn from the South African experience.
Research Funding in SA Unlike Nigeria and many other African countries, South Africa has a long history of well established structures that are created for the support of research in tertiary institutions. The history of support for research in universities goes back to 1942 when General Jan Smuts began developing a vision for a national research body in South Africa. In 1945 Parliament passed a bill to establish the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). Fostering research in universities through grants and bursaries was an item on the agenda of the first council meeting.
. Since then, these structures have provided funding for research and training of postgraduate students and for collaborative academic activities among researchers, both locally and internationally. The research funding structure which I met in 1993 in South Africa was providing support separately for the Natural Sciences, Engineering and Technology (NSET) on the one hand, and the Social Sciences and Humanities (SS&H) on the other.
. While NSET support was provided by the Foundation for Research Development (FRD), the SS&H support was through the Centre for Science Development (CSD). By that time (in the early 1990s) the FRD and CSD had realized that the apartheid legacy had created a situation in which black people who were mainly at the historically black Universities and Technikons (polytechnics) had marginal access to the country’s research support resources.
. Therefore, they adopted corrective action measures and implemented targeted programmes that would in the long term optimize the participation of these groups and institutions in research and hence secure a larger portion of the research support resources available. Both FRD and CSD implemented individual and institutional approaches to effect research capacity development in the targeted groups and institutions.
Foundation for Research Development (FRD The FRD provided the following integrated research support:. student support (bursaries, scholarships, study allowances, etc) · infrastructure development · staff development · research running costs · fellowships and sabbaticals · visiting professorships · and inter-institutional research collaborations These supports were implemented within a framework that required institutions to identify their own research focus areas called research thrusts within which they wanted to develop research capacity and eventually establish centres of excellence and then to submit comprehensive proposals expounding on these. The FRD subjected these proposals to external review, and support was made available only for those research thrusts that were approved.
Center for Science Development (CSD) The CSD identified gaps and skills which the country needed in general and devised strategies to deal with these within the following framework: Research Training and Support: This was aimed at addressing the research-related skills of individual academics especially those at historically disadvantaged institutions (HBUs and Technikons, HDIs). It sought to increase the contribution of such researchers as originators of knowledge, improve their access to CSD and other funding sources and support them to undertake high quality research. Women-in-Research: The primary objective of this project was to stimulate research collaboration and networks among women researchers and academics, strengthen their capacity to produce gender-aware research and improve their access to research funding generally.
. Research infrastructure Support: The programme aimed to strengthen the research infrastructure and research management capacities of primarily HDIs of higher education and to facilitate the development of research ethos at HBUs. Population Research and Regional Research Collaboration: While the population research component aimed at strengthening population research and demographic training in the country, the regional research collaboration focused on building research collaboration in the region.
Merging the CSD and FRD The NRF Act of 1998 provided for the consolidation of the CSD and the FRD into a new organization called the National Research Foundation (NRF) which came into being on 1 April This provided for the integration of research support in South Africa bringing together the domains of Natural Sciences, Engineering and Technology, Social Science and Humanities under one roof.
The mandate of the NRF Support and promote research through funding, human resource development and the provision of the necessary research facilities in order to facilitate the creation of knowledge, innovation and development in all fields of science and technology including indigenous knowledge and thereby to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of all the people of the Republic.
The NRF today The activities of the NRF today is appropriately summarized in its mission statements: A dynamic, quality-driven organization that provides leadership in the promotion and support of research and research capacity development in the natural, social and human sciences, engineering and technology to meet national and global challenges through: Investing in knowledge, people and infrastructure; Promoting basic and applied research and innovation Developing research capacity and advancing equity and redress to unlock the full creative potential of the research community Facilitating strategic partnerships and knowledge networks Upholding research excellence The organization realizes this mission through the creativity and commitment of its people and partners
Services offered by the NRF to researchers and institutions The NRF provides a wide array of support to researchers and institutions in South Africa. These include the provision of grants, scholarships, fellowships and rating awards based on the researcher’s profile.
Student Bursaries and Scholarships The NRF supports post-graduate students in two ways, namely through: 1.Free Standing Scholarship Programmes in which the students apply and compete individually, and 2. Grant-holder linked bursaries. The grant-holder will be provided with a number of bursaries which he or she can use within the student bursary rules. The NRF currently provides bursaries and scholarships to post- graduate students studying at South African universities (HEIs) and in some cases, international universities.
Funding for established researchers South African Research Chair Initiatives and Centers of Excellence Incentive funding for rated researchers
Funding for human capital development and non-rated researchers. –Support for non-rated researchers –Thuthuka –Research Niche Areas –PhD Programme –Free Standing Scholarships (Postdoc, PhD, MSc, Hons)
Funding for strategic knowledge fields –Curiosity Driven Research (Blue sky) –Knowledge Fields Development Grants –Indigenous Knowledge Systems –South African Biodiversity Initiative –Marine and Coastal Management –SEAChange –African Origins Programme –African Coelacanth Environment Programme –Multi-wavelength –SA National Antarctic Programme, –African Geographic Advantage Programme
Funding for international initiatives –von Humboldt –International Science Liaison – Bilaterals –ILL – Binationals –Royal Society –IAEA –KISC, –International Council for Science –Regional co-operation fund –Focus on Africa
Funding for applied and industrial research and innovation. –Technology and Human Resources for Industry Programme (THRIP) –Industrial Centres of Excellence
Funding for community engagement research Research into community outreach
Funding for strategic platforms (Including research at the National Research Facilities) Researchers working HEI on Facilities NIThP Equipment mobility National Research Equipment Programme National Nano-Equipment Programme
Science and Technology Agreements Fund The Science and Technology Agreements Fund (STAF) administers agreements that facilitate international research collaboration, specifically with African countries.
Innovation Fund The Innovation Fund (IF) invests in technologies at various stages of development. The Fund provides seed funding for commercialization of Innovation Fund projects and the establishment of technology-based start-up companies. It also offers commercialization advice to potential entrepreneurs and promotes or stimulates patenting of technologies and products.
Sources of funds to individual researchers In addition to the above from the NRF, South African Researchers can get funding from: The University, as Seed grant, Conference grant, Equipment, visiting grant, etc Research incentives, Publication incentive, Postgraduate supervision, as a rated researcher
Research budget and sources of funds R1.3 billion in 2009 (N23.40 billion) The NRF receives funding from various sources, including: The Parliamentary Core Grant Various Government departments, for example: –Department of Science and Technology (DST), –Department of Labour (DoL), –Department of Trade and Industry (the dti), –Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) –This money is disbursed according to strict criteria laid down by the sponsor.
Evaluation and Rating of Researchers The evaluation and rating of individuals is based primarily on the quality of research outputs in the recent past (over the last seven years) and is undertaken by national and international peer reviewers who are requested to critically scrutinize the completed research. Currently there are six rating categories (A, B, C, P, Y, and L) that the Assessment Panels use to assess the standing of applicants amongst their peers. The rating system was introduced for applicants in the natural sciences and engineering in 1984 and for applicants in the social sciences and humanities in 2002.
Accountability Researchers in South Africa must account for every cent spent. No misappropriation of fund. Any remuneration received is taxed. Progress reports are compulsory. These are measured from the research outputs. –Publications –Masters/PhD outputs
Conclusions In a world driven by competition in all spheres of life, and in more recent times by competition in advancement in technology, research has development implications for every nation. So also is the funding of research. Today, Nigerians are among the top researchers in the world. There is hardly any functioning research institutions anywhere in the world where there are no Nigerians. The question is: Had these Nigerian intellectuals been funded and allowed to work in favorable environments in Nigeria, would most of them still go out?