CHET a key partner in new centre of excellence

CHET a key partner in new centre of excellence

The Minister of Science and Technology, Derek Hanekom, has announced the establishment of a new centre of excellence (CoE) in Scientometrics and Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Policy at Stellenbosch University. (Read the full announcement.)

The Chief Executive Officer of the National Research Foundation, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, said: "After a thorough and comprehensive selection process that interrogated the capacity of applicant institutions and the research record of each proposed director, we are excited at the establishment of five additional CoEs. Along with the existing CoEs, the CoEs will ensure that relevant knowledge and necessary human capacity are developed in research areas that are of importance to the economic life of the country and sustained wellbeing of South Africans."

Prof. Johann Mouton, the director of CREST, will be the director of the CoE. The participating collaborating institutions include:

  • the Institute for Economic Research on Innovation, at Tshwane University of Technology (Director: Dr Rashigan Marahaj),
  • the Centre for Higher Education Transformation (CHET), and
  • the Centre for Science and Technology Studies, at the University of Leiden, the Netherlands (Director: Dr Robert Tijissen). 

Individual collaborators listed in the proposal are Peter Maassen (University of Oslo), Arie Rip (University of Twente), Peter Weingart (University of Bieleveld) and Manuel Castells (University Southern California /Barcelona /Cambridge).

The CoE in Scientrometrics and STI Policy aims to be one of the first in the world to combine science and innovation studies with higher education studies – trying to bridge the endemic gap between these two fields.

The work programmes of the proposed CoE will ensure resonance with a range of national strategies concerned specifically with the evolution of the governance and cohesion of the National System of Innovation (NSI). It will be generally aligned with the orientation and strategic priorities of the Department of Science and Technology and the Department of Higher Education and Training. It will contribute to achieving the goals of the NSI and other national imperatives (in the particular the National Development Plan). This proposal normatively seeks a more efficient and optimal utilisation of the country’s knowledge resources and will seek to advance the generation of high quality evidence through which improved decision-making becomes possible. The diffusion of such research outcomes, coupled with the generation of highly skilled and qualified human resources will contribute to a well functioning NSI.

The three main academic activities of the CoE will be research, training and information analysis and distribution. The research activities are organised into a Research Portfolio of four Work Programmes:

  1. Science, technology and innovation indicators
  2. STI policy for development
  3. Human development for STI
  4. Science communication, evaluation and impact.

For CHET the main focus will be human development (Work Programme 3) as well as the overarching aim of the Centre which is to integrate existing data and indicator data systems to obtain a better understanding of the dynamics of the contribution of higher education to STI and development, both in SA and on the African continent.

This is clearly a new, but exciting, phase for CHET. Activities and collaborations will be discussed at the CHET Board meeting in May 2014. This will be an opportune time since the CoE workplan for the first five years have to be operationalised during June/July 2014.