The Irish-African Partnership for Research Capacity Building (2008-2011) brings together all nine universities on the island of Ireland and four universities in Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi* in a unique, high-level partnership to develop a coordinated approach to Research Capacity Building (RCB) in higher education institutions. The IAPRCB aims:
- To build the capacity for development research in Irish and Northern Irish universities
- To build the capacity for research in the four African universities in health and education, and the cross-cutting themes of ICT and gender.
The Partnership is funded as a pilot project under the Programme of Strategic Cooperation between Irish Aid and Higher Education and Research Institutes (2007-2011). It is organised under the umbrella of Universities Ireland, which also provides some matching funding.
The administrative leader of the Partnership is the Centre for Cross Border Studies, with offices in Armagh and at Dublin City University. The project manager, Niamh Gaynor, will begin work in late January 2008 and the other four staff will be in place by the beginning of March (see Project Management below). The Partnership’s first four-day workshop, to be opened by President McAleese, will take place in DCU from 8th to 11th April 2008.
The project’s methodology will centre around:
- A pilot foresight exercise to establish research needs in the four African countries and the Irish and Northern Irish universities’ capacities to work in partnership to meet those needs;
- Six four-day themed workshops (three in Ireland – the first in April 2008 – and three in Africa) to recruit and involve stakeholders, design and carry out the foresight exercise, run a pilot summer school and discuss and agree a final report. It will be the job of the project manager and staff to maximise the impact of these workshops across the life of the programme. The project will also set up a web portal to showcase Ireland’s development research work, identify key areas of expertise, and support partnerships with African universities.
The project will consist of six work packages:
- A stakeholder consultation among the 14 participating institutions (and external agencies such as donors) using workshops, focus groups, structured interviews and e-consultation;
- The foresight exercise to identify and prioritise areas of existing, emerging and potential HEI research strength (particularly in health, education, ICT and gender) where future investments will realise tangible social and economic benefits for the participating African countries. In particular it will identify key areas of research for poverty reduction.
- The implementation of an all-island development research web portal to link the Irish and African partners in a virtual community for exchange, dissemination and e-consultation.
- The development of a set of metrics for monitoring the RCB process, including the number of researchers, postgraduate degrees awarded, funding received, publications, partnerships, and destination of PhD graduates (quantitative metrics); and attitudes and barriers (qualitative metrics).
- Conclusions and recommendations for building sustainable RCB in African universities, and in development research in Irish and Northern Irish universities (with a particular focus on the processes involved in RCB).
- Project management. The project will be overseen by a Steering Committee representing all 14 HEIs; a smaller Executive Committee to manage it on a day-to-day basis; and an Advisory Board (to be chaired by former Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dick Spring) to provide support from international experts in development research. It will employ a project manager (based at DCU), two postdoctoral fellows in health and education (based at Queen’s University Belfast and Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick) and a software engineer (to run the web portal, based at Trinity College Dublin). The project manager will be supported by an administrative officer in DCU.Professor Jane Grimson (TCD), Chair, Steering CommitteeProfessor Ronnie Munck (DCU), Chair, Executive CommitteeAndy Pollak (CCBS), Administrative Leader
* Participating higher education institutions: University of Dublin/Trinity College, Queen’s University Belfast, Dublin City University, University of Limerick/Mary Immaculate College, University College Dublin, University of Ulster, National University of Ireland Galway, National University of Ireland Maynooth, University College Cork, Makerere University (Uganda), University of Dar-es-Salaam, Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (Mozambique), University of Malawi, Centre for Cross Border Studies.