The University of Johannesburg (UJ) has received a major boost to its fast growing research and innovation efforts with the announcement that four new research chairs have been awarded by the National Research Foundation to the University in the latest round of awards in the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) programme.
Sixty prestigious research chairs have been awarded by the National Research Foundation, in open competition, across the South African university system. A key criterion for the award of a research chair is that the host university must provide a scholarly environment in which the chair and scholarship can flourish.
The four new chairs take to seven the chairs that UJ now holds.
The new chairs are awarded in four of the university’s nine faculties. The Chair in Indigenous Plant Use was awarded to the Faculty of Science; African Diplomacy and Foreign Policy to the Faculty of Humanities; International Law to the Faculty of Law; and Education and Care in Childhood to the Faculty of Education.
The new chairs are expected to further contribute to UJ’s research and innovation momentum. UJ’s accredited research output has almost doubled in half the time it had planned.
UJ will, following further consultations with the National Research Foundation, announce appointments to the new chairs later in the year.
Prof Ihron Rensburg said that the winning of four new chairs and seven chairs overall is a testimony to the university’s commitment to knowledge production and the nurturing of the next generation of scholars, and our outstanding track record in research. “This is great news for UJ and will no doubt raise even further our research capabilities, output and global impact.”
“The alignment of UJ’s research strategy with national research and development priorities ensured that UJ secured a successful outcome in the 2011/2012 round of competitive applications for NRF Chairs,” says Professor Angina Parekh, UJ’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor responsible for academic matters at the university. “UJ is now in its eighth year since the merger and its research capabilities have been growing impressively. The fact that we received four chairs in the latest round of NRF allocations is an indication of the growing significance and profile of UJ’s research community.”
“Our universities form part of a global network of knowledge creation and dissemination, and South African universities are very much part thereof through collaborative research projects, scholarly exchanges, the joint supervision of master and doctoral students and other means. This announcement by the Minister of Science and Technology, Ms Naledi Pandor is a most welcome affirmation of our national intention to raise our research and innovation game. Furthermore, these research chairs provide a meaningful learning experience to the nation’s brightest young minds, and it will contribute significantly to the UJ’s own efforts to nurture next generation scholars,” says Prof Rensburg.
Concludes Prof Rensburg: “Research is one of the cornerstones of our university. It is especially encouraging for me to see that within five years UJ has seen a surge in its accredited research output. We set a goal to double our accredited research output by the end of 2015 and have achieved this 5 years ahead with our 2010 output.”
The SARChI programme is a national knowledge and human development intervention, led by the Department of Science and Technology and managed by the National Research Foundation.
The programme was established in 2006 to strengthen scientific research leadership and capacity in South African universities. It aims to create a critical mass of world-class scholars who will train future generations of scholars and graduates to support a South African knowledge-based economy.
SARChI Research Chairs are tenable for five years and renewable for two further five-year periods, giving a total life span of fifteen years. Eligibility for renewal is based on performance.
The funding per chair is R2.5 million per annum, and is intended to cover salaries, postdoctoral fellowships, postgraduate student bursaries, research operating costs, and equipment necessary for the work of the Chair.