Recent changes in Higher Education funding directives have direct implications for research funding at system and institutional levels. This necessitates various initiatives and strategies to be employed by higher education institutions to increase their access to external funding sources. Prof Marietha Nieman and Dr Mishack Gumbo attended a workshop from 4-6 June which was presented by the South African Research and Innovation Management Association (SARIMA). During the workshop the role of research managers and administrators in ensuring successful grant proposals was discussed. The declining access to public funding of higher education research, makes it more and more important to access external funding sources. However in times of economic scarcity successful applications for research funding, are ever more elusive.
Being successful in obtaining such external grants provides proof that one’s expertise is in demand and as such there is high prestige value attached to being success in the acquisition of such grants – both for individuals and institutions. CEDU cannot afford to rely only on NRF and DHET for research funding and we need to seriously think about finding other external funds for our academic research. The competition for external funding necessitates that such applications are well prepared and will meet with all the funders’ requirements. It was emphasised during the workshop that apart from the development of the application, one of the most important steps in the whole process of seeking external funding is internal screening and review to ensure a well thought through and complete application.
The presenters at the workshop, Prof JP Groenewald, Prof Sibusiso Moyo and Dr Karin Dyasin, indicated that the most common reasons for application failure are ineligibility, missing information, insufficient motivation to show the importance of the research, a lack of focus, unrealistic budgets being presented and deadlines which are missed. Ignorance and carelessness of this nature cannot be afforded when submitting an application for research funds. CEDU staff members who apply for external grants should ensure that the final proposal are of high quality and meet with all the expected requirements.