The University of Zululand (UNIZULU) honoured its top researchers at a glittering gala dinner held at the institution’s Richards Bay Campus on Tuesday, 28 October 2014.
Speaking at the event the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation at UNIZULU, Professor Rob Midgley said the Research Awards were not only meant to showcase what the researchers at the institution have been doing but were also a celebration of the achievements by both students and academics. He said in recent years there has been a remarkable increase in the University’s research output. In 2012 there was an increase of 5 percent from the previous year while in 2013 there was a huge increase of 25 percent from 2012.The University now also boasts a level 2 accreditation “which means researchers can come and ask us to accredit their research from an ethical point of view” and has also registered one patent this year.
Prof Midgley said UNIZULU has focused strongly on capacity development and providing the necessary support and resources to researchers.
He added that there were many opportunities that the University will be exploring including partnerships with local business especially as the Richards Bay node has been designated as one of the special economic zones.
Guest speaker Professor Cheryl Potgieter, the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s (UKZN) Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Head of Humanities College, said evidently UNIZULU is on an upward trajectory in terms of research and that the institution’s good story was emerging chapter by chapter. But there is still space for the University to “move from excellent to great”, she told guests at the gala dinner. “Your University has great potential. What is stopping it from being the University of choice to a diverse range of students?” She stressed the need for increasing knowledge production saying all academics should actively endeavour to contribute to knowledge production in their respective fields. “For Africa and South Africa to grow and sustain that growth, high levels of innovation and creativity are imperative…Knowledge has been labelled an indicator of wellbeing in the world and there is no reason why it should be the domain of only a few,” said Prof Potgieter.
Prof Potgieter challenged academics to actively publish not for the sake of publishing but to publish in high quality journals. “How can you be a professor and not publish. What do you have to profess when you don’t do what your title suggests you have to do?” she asked.