SARUA’s aim is thus to strengthen the leadership and institutions of higher education in the southern African region
Leadership Dialogue Event: Building The Capacity Of Higher Education To Enhance Regional Development
The second workshop in the CODOC project (Cooperation on Doctoral Education between Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe) was held at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, from 13 to 16 March 2012. The event was co-organised by SARUA (Southern African Regional Universities Association) and EUA, and held in conjunction with a SARUA Vice-Chancellors’ leadership meeting, attended by Vice-Chancellors from the 15 countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
More than 75 participants gathered to discuss the challenges of providing doctoral education and share good practice in capacity building. Universities from all four continents covered by the project are admitting a rapidly growing number of doctoral candidates, giving institutions increased incentives to take innovative approaches to build and use their research capacity.
Participants provided an overview over the national and regional situations as well as case studies from individual institutions on how to collaborate to pool resources, address funding shortages and foster inclusive research environments. The workshop provided good opportunities to compare different regions and to network with university leaders from around the world.
Among the outcomes was a common understanding of the importance of management and information systems, as well as strong leadership. Participants emphasised the necessity to engage actively in a dialogue with other stakeholders and government on the importance of investing in doctoral education. There was also a realisation that governments across the globe are setting highly ambitious goals for doctoral education often without providing suitable investment in institutions and research infrastructure, leading to high admission but low completion rates and potentially jeopardising quality. The event highlighted that northern and southern universities face many similar issues.
The event also placed a special focus on the Southern African context and the need to strengthen African research capacity, which only accounts for a minimal amount of global research production. Although capacity building in doctoral education has been supported by a variety of international donors, SARUA and its member universities are encouraging higher public investment and stronger national policies in the SADC countries to support the growth of their respective knowledge economies. The workshop also served as a platform to brainstorm ideas for how Southern African universities could work together to build doctoral education and generate the critical research and teaching staff needed for their rapidly expanding universities.