AllAll news

Learnings from the pre-INORMS Southern Africa Study Tour

Learnings from the pre-INORMS Southern Africa Study Tour

The three research management associations, European Association of Research Managers and Administrators (EARMA), The Danish Association for Research Managers and Administrators (DARMA) and SARIMA, with support from INORMS, the Society for Research Administrators International (SRAi), the Canadian Association of Research Administrators (CARA) and the UK Association of Research Managers and Administrators (ARMA) held a study tour to Southern Africa in the week leading up to the INORMS 2023 Congress in Durban.
Seventeen research managers and administrators (RMAs) from institutions in Denmark, the UK, the USA, Saudi Arabia, Spain, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Belgium, Norway and Germany visited colleagues from universities in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Gaborone, Stellenbosch and Cape Town.

 Study tour SA 2
“It was an amazing tour! We were met with well-prepared programmes and truly engaging and inclusive dialogues on many topics of joint interest”, said Jan Andersen, University of Southern Denmark, one of the study tour planners. “Of course, the challenges in research and the lack of recognition of the RMA profession played a central role in several of our meetings. We also discussed and learned about the role of universities in society, with an emphasis on social innovation and university outreach.

“In Gaborone we participated in the Botswana Open University Colloquium on Research and Innovation Management for Impact, with more than 80 participants. In Cape Town we had the opportunity to discuss the Cape Town Statement on Fostering Research Integrity through Fairness and Equity, setting a new path for the recognition and inclusion of all contributions to research in an international research collaboration context”. 

The participants in the study tour also had the opportunity to visit museums and collections hosted by universities in Johannesburg and Pretoria, and to enjoy the African wildlife and culture in Botswana in and around Cape Town.

Study tour SA 1
While some of the participants already had contacts in several of the hosting institutions through the Erasmus+ Strengthening of Collaboration, Leadership and Professionalisation in Research Management (StoRM) project and other collaborations, the study tour served as a truly eye-opening experience for many who visited Africa for the first time. The participants were constantly engaged in stimulating dialogues and discussions, many commenting on the cross-cultural similarities of the types of challenges they face as RMAs. 

“The conversations extended far beyond the technical aspects of research management,” says Mariko Yang-Yoshihara, Stanford University, USA. “It was remarkable to witness how RMAs are actively involved in research at a philosophical level. The insights I gained during the study tour, both from our generous hosts and the fellow participants, served as a strong testament to the professionalism of individuals who hold a deep concern for the advancement of science and research.” 

Simon Gray, University of Bristol, UK, added, “We came with high expectations, and they were met, thanks to good colleagues and to an excellent welcome from our Southern African universities.”

“We have set an extremely high bar as we launch our preparation for a yet to be decided study tour for the INORMS 2025 in Madrid – and we will do what we can to live up to that,” ends Johanna Roodt, EARMA.

Study tour SA 3

Thanks to our hosts at University of Witwatersrand, University of Johannesburg, University of Pretoria, The National Research Foundation, Botswana Open University, Stellenbosch University, University of Cape Town and University of the Western Cape, with acknowledgment of the huge effort put into the programme:  Prenitha Sewnarain, SARIMA, Nelisha Naidoo, SARIMA, Robin Drennan, University of the Witwatersrand, Pamisha Pillay University of the Witsatersrand, Luruli Ndivhuwo, University of Johannesburg,  Rosemary Wolson, University of Johannesburg, Farai Kapfudzaruwa, University of Pretoria, Sedwyn Anthony, University of Pretoria, Rakeshnie Ramoutar-Prieschl, University of Pretoria, Fundie Nsibande,University of Pretoria, Nivi Ragubeer, University of Pretoria, Setsipane Mokoduwe, University of Pretoria, Carol Nonkwelo, University of Pretoria, June-Rose Ngcobo, University of Pretoria, Lekofe Gaffane, National Research Foundation, Refilwe Mashigo, National Research Foundation, Mogodisheng Sekhwela, Botswana Open University, Changu Batisani, Botswana Open University, Therina Theron, Stellenbosch University, Ravini Moodley, Stellenbosch University, Marion Ngulungu, University of Cape Town, Andrew Bailey, University of Cape Town, Ana Casanueva, University of Western Cape and all other good colleagues in Botswana and South Africa that made the Study Tour a memorable experience.

We invite you to join us in an online event where we will unveil the key takeaways from the Study Tour. Discover the notable individuals we had the privilege to meet, the valuable lessons we gleaned, and the potential for ongoing collaborations. Additionally, we will delve into discussions about future study tours, exploring the prospects they hold. Furthermore, we will reflect upon the INORMS 2023 conference, sharing insights on its outcomes and the INORMS 2025 conference's exciting prospects. Find out with us September 7, 2023, 13:45 - 15:30 CEST. Read more and register.