2019 Report to Senate and Council: Ensuring sustained research excellence in a dynamic space

10 July 2020 | Professor Sue Harrison

Dear colleagues

The 2019 Report on Research to Senate and Council outlines the practical details of what we are doing to ensure University of Cape Town (UCT) research remains relevant, innovative and excellent, and that the next generation of researchers are ready and enabled to lead our research into the future.

The 2019 Report on Research to Senate and Council maps our route through a challenging landscape to ensure sustained research excellence. It outlines UCT’s research portfolio, including the research strategy and how we are implementing it. It records the goals we have met and the successes we have achieved, but also acknowledges areas of risk and targets that have not yet been reached.

This report demonstrates the continued strength of our research, particularly when it comes to addressing local and societal needs while still delivering global knowledge and impact. Our interdisciplinary institutes and cross-university initiatives tackle grand challenges such as climate change and development, sustainable use of resources, poverty and inequality, infectious diseases and African cities.

UCT values being a comprehensive university with a diverse research portfolio. Over recent years we have recognised the value in focusing efforts and resources to take the quality and impact of specific areas of investigation to the next level.

The key to great research is innovation, and the key to innovation is dynamism. As an institution, we cannot rest on our research laurels. Our focus is, and must be, on supporting and growing the next generation of researchers to ensure continued innovation and dynamism. This year’s report demonstrates our institutional investment in research. It outlines the various initiatives and funding instruments developed to support and encourage our researchers, particularly our young researchers, in their efforts to find solutions to the world’s grand challenges, solve the mysteries of the universe and materially improve the quality of life of those in our communities.

The report focuses too on the obstacles we face. The difficult space we found ourselves in during these past years has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 global pandemic and its myriad challenges. Our investment in research means we can face these obstacles head-on. Each identified risk is accompanied by an action plan to address it. In some cases, this work is already under way; in others, it is still in the planning stage. But it demonstrates our commitment to ensuring the continued excellence of research at UCT. This is an integral part of who we are as a community and what we contribute to a better South Africa and a better world.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank UCT’s research community, including academic staff, soft-funded researchers, postdoctoral fellows and research students, as well as the research support staff in faculties and service departments, for the huge part they play in defining UCT’s research landscape.

Warm regards

Professor Sue Harrison
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Internationalisation


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