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NRF discusses research funding, opportunities, and challenges for researchers

The University of Limpopo (UL) recently welcomed representatives from the National Research Foundation (NRF) for an engagement session with university stakeholders on research funding and challenges

The NRF is a national agency that supports research and innovation in various disciplines, including science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), social sciences, and humanities. The primary goal of the session was to provide specific information and address the challenges faced by UL's internal stakeholders involved in research.

The informative session was attended by UL delegates, postgraduate students, early-career researchers, and beneficiaries of programmes like the Black Academics Advancement Programme (BAAP), Thuthuka, and Research Development Grants for nGAP Scholars. During the session, NRF representatives provided details about funding opportunities, research grants, and support structures. This created a valuable platform for engagement and allowed for a deeper understanding of the research funding landscape. Attendees were also able to receive clarity on numerous queries or concerns they had prior to their engagement with the NRF.

Dr Sello Manoto, Director of Research Infrastructure and Emerging Researchers at NRF, acknowledged the critical issue of funding release and the current challenges the NRF faces. “We are doing everything possible to address these challenges, but we are currently experiencing technical difficulties with our systems,” he stated.

Dr Manoto assured attendees that efforts are underway to resolve these issues with the NRF Connect system to ensure timely funding releases. “We plan to dedicate June and July to resolving these challenges and ensuring a quick resolution,” he assured.

David Ramokgola, a PhD student in Law at UL, found the session highly productive. He noted that many students needed guidance on NRF applications and related matters, such as navigating changes to their applications, switching or amending topics, and securing funding releases. "Last year, more than 200 students, including myself, were not funded due to such challenges. However, since the NRF's visit, we managed to be clarified on hassles we experienced previously.," Ramokgola shared.

Agather Seema, an honours BSc student in Mathematics and Computer Science, appreciated the session's informativeness but expressed concern over the low funding rate. "I wish they would address the issue of financial constraints so that more students can further their studies without any financial burden," Seema expressed.

Following the presentations by the NRF, Dr Thembinkosi Mabila, Director of the Department of Research Administration and Development at UL, expressed his satisfaction with the meeting. He highlighted that the engagement with NRF officials addressed the concerns raised by researchers and further enhanced the collaboration between UL and NRF.

"The goal is to exchange ideas on how to best support currently funded NRF postgraduate students, emerging researchers, and postdoctoral students," said Dr Mabila. He also mentioned plans for future engagements, where they will meet with NRF-funded postgraduate students and emerging researchers through Thuthuka, BAAP, and postdoctoral programmes. "The final session will brief postgraduate students on the current funding opportunities available," he added.

This engagement session marks a significant step towards improving the research funding landscape at UL, addressing stakeholders' concerns, and ensuring better support for the university's research community.

By Keletso Makgopa


Date created: 2024-07-08 14:42:35