UWE Bristol working with research organisations in Africa and the UK to build capacity for research management and administration

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In an exciting new collaboration, a team drawn from three research organisations in Africa and five in the UK are working together to build capacity for research management and administration at their own universities and beyond. 

Staff in Africa from the University of Cape Town, the University of the Western Cape and the African Institute of Biomedical Science and Technology and, in the UK, from the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), and the GW4 Alliance – the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter– are bringing together research development and management expertise to address barriers to north-south and south-south collaborations. 

The project involves an online survey among research managers and administrators (RMAs) across team members’ networks, designed to identify the skills and resource gaps and the operational and infrastructural challenges that RMAs face in both Africa and the UK. The team is very keen to hear from as many people as possible. If you work in this area you can take part in the survey via this link: https://redcap.link/qn5azr70.

By compiling and creating resources for competency-based training and best practice, the team also hope to develop RMAs’ capacity to build and deliver research partnerships professionally and equitably across countries and continents.  For RMAs working in donor countries, a better understanding of the local context in which their partners operate will also help strengthen collaboration and impact.

As well as the knowledge/skills gap scoping study, the project will involve conducting exchange visits, delivering an online knowledge exchange workshop and developing a competency-based draft training curriculum.  The collaboration is also extending participants’ networks and building their knowledge of evidence-based practice, which will support African institutions’ capacity to sustainably deliver research programmes.

The project forms part of the International Research Management Staff Development Programme (IRMSDP).  IRMSDP is an initiative of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) in collaboration with the UK’s Association of Research Managers and Administrators (ARMA).  Its aim is to enhance south-south and north-south collaborations, build mutual understanding and appreciation of different cultures, and co-create resources that will benefit the wider research management community of practice.  ReMPro Africa, an initiative of the AAS, aims to fill critical gaps in the African research ecosystem to support a vibrant research culture and leadership at universities and research institutions.

This project, SMARTLife – Sustainable Management and Administration for Research: Training across the project Lifecycle – emerged through a rigorous process in which teams were first selected in the UK and Africa and then matched to form six combined international teams.  The project team is being led by Victoria Nembaware of the University of Cape Town and Simon Glasser of the University of Bristol.

The draft curriculum and a report on the project findings will be disseminated through the AAS and the various participating institutions and affiliated organisations.  The team hopes that the participating universities will continue to engage beyond this initiative and build their respective networks to facilitate further collaborations.

Notes

GW4 Alliance: The GW4 Alliance brings together four of the most research-intensive and innovative universities in the UK: the universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter. From the creative arts to the physical sciences, the GW4 Alliance has world-leading scholarship, infrastructure and faculty. The GW4 Alliance aims to cultivate our regional economy, develop a highly skilled workforce and enhance the research and innovation ecosystem for the South West and Wales.

The GW4 Alliance has invested over £2.9m in 93 collaborative research communities, which are addressing major global and industrial challenges, and have generated over £46 million in research income. This means that for every £1 GW4 spends on collaborative research communities, GW4 captures over £15 in external research awards.

Find out more: http://gw4.ac.uk/