Unisa’s efforts on research recognised

Unisa has become the third university to receive the National Research Foundation (NRF)’s Excelleration Award. Derived from the words “excellence” and acceleration, the award acknowledges South African research institutions for achieving the most improved research performance over recent years, measured against a selection of critical indicators. The two previous recipients were the Central University of Technology and the University of Limpopo. The NRF presented the award during a ceremony at Unisa on 5 December 2016.

Justine Cresswell (Head of Sales IP&S: Clarivate Analytics) hands over the NRF Excelleration Award to Prof Mandla Makhanya (Principal and Vice-Chancellor: Unisa).

Handing over the award, Dr Ndanduleni Nthambeleni, the Executive Director of Grants Management and Systems at NRF, said the award is meant to celebrate and recognise those institutions that improve the quality of research and their ouput. He added that Unisa had made a tremendous improvement and contribution to the quality of research. He urged the university to continue its output on research work, saying other institutions battled to balance research and teaching and learning.

Prof Mandla Makhanya, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Unisa, who received the award on behalf of the university, said it served as a necessary impetus for the university to continue with research and to strengthen its capacity to produce a high quality of research work.

The Vice-Chancellor also expressed his gratitude to the NRF, saying the university had invested massive resources into research, and the award was a testimony that the investment was bearing fruit.

He added that the university community and some scholars were not keen about research when it was first introduced as an area of priority. He said many people expressed concern that such a move would stifle teaching and learning, which is one of the core mandates of the university. However, Makhanya said the ratings by the NRF had since changed the perceptions of many scholars and he was pleased that the appetite for research amongst scholars had rapidly increased.

The award was sponsored by Clarivate Analytics, formerly the IP & Science business of Thomson Reuters, a company that boasts about accelerating the pace of innovation by providing trusted insights and analytics to customers around the world, enabling them to discover, protect, and commercialise new ideas.

According to Gail Van Der Merwe, Clarivate Analytics marketing specialist, the company was delighted to have sponsored the NRF Excelleration Award 2016 and were even more delighted to have presented Unisa with a prize to enhance their research capabilities. The Clarivate prize includes a complimentary subscription to enhance the depth of the Web of ScienceTM Core Collection with 10 years of additional journal content.

Prof Les Labuschagne (Acting Vice-Principal: Research, Postgraduate Studies, Innovation and Commercialisation), Tracey October (Clarivate Analytics), Prof Mandla Makhanya (Principal and Vice-Chancellor: Unisa), and Dr Ndanduleni B Nthambeleni (ED: Grants Management and Systems Administration, NRF)

*By Percy Mthombeni and Sharon Farrell