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ࡱ> %` bjbjٕ . L: !!!9999999$:hX=9,!!,,9 9888,  98,9888 w)ڮ 58990:8=7=8=8!j!%p8')!!!99u8 !!!:,,,,|$| Status and Evolution of Research within South African Technikons: A Critical Analysis N.A. Ogude, F.G. Netswera and T. Mavundla This article focuses on the redefinition of South Africas Colleges for Advanced Technical Education into research organizations in higher learning. It reports results of the first phase of a project into the impact of national policies intended to cultivate the culture of the much-needed applied research in higher education and to fill a gap left by universities. National policies were analysed and representatives from national policy-making bodies interviewed. Inconsistencies between the different policy documents, practical problems emerging at the implementation stage and views of the Technikon umbrella organization, on the progress so far made are discussed. Introduction Currently, two forms of research organizations in higher education, universities and technikons, exist in South Africa. Traditionally, Research in these institutions is perceived by wider society and academia in general, as basic in the former and applied in the latter. Of the two, universities that have an established research culture receive the largest portion of research funds and resources from government and other funding agencies. In spite of the large amounts spent on research in universities, they are viewed as unable to address such pressing societal needs as eradicating poverty. Commitment to basic research left a vacuum which technikons as institutions given over to applied research by virtue of their close association with industry, could address. In the early 1990s against this backdrop, the Principals of all 15 technikons in South Africa lobbied strongly for technikons to award undergraduate and postgraduate degrees thus enhancing their research capabilities. The Technikon Act of 1993, conferred degree awarding status on technikons. Since then technikons in South Africa have been engaged in developing a research culture among staff and delivering the much-needed applied research they are ready to do. However, a number of problems, some systemic and external, others macro- and micro-institutional, have hampered their efforts. At the institutional level, critical components indispensable for research to thrive, particularly infrastructure, funding, teaching loads and staff profiles, although adapting rapidly, remain more suited to teaching than to research. Thus, typical teaching loads in most technikons average 25 contact hours per week (Ogude and Motha, 2001). The lack of research capacity among the staff members, in particular, has been a major obstacle to progress. This article examines national problems, emerging at the implementation stage of legislation intended to fill the gap of applied research in South Africa. It analyses policy documents, their initial intentions and the challenges posed by implementation. Contradictions between various policy documents are also highlighted as are the implications that these contradictions entail for implementation. The task of technikons to fulfil their original mandate to conduct vital community-related research has been complicated considerably by such problems. The article concludes with an overview of how the technikons umbrella organization, the Committee of Technikon Principals (CTP) has assessed the achievements of the technikon sector in the light of the original policy intentions and despite the challenges experienced. Purpose of the Study This study focused on research in higher education and specifically in the technikons set against the complex landscape of South African higher education. Central to the study is a close analysis of national policies, their intent and implementation which effectively gave research status to technikons. The findings of the overall study, phases 1and 2, which is the outcome of analysing policy and of an empirical qualitative design, will shed light on the interplay between national policy, institutional culture and globalization as they shape research in technikons. Justification and Context A comprehensive study into technikon-based research in the South African context may be justified on a number of counts. Firstly, accurate information about the current status of research at South African technikons is, basically, lacking. Secondly, an imbalance exists between historically disadvantaged (black universities and technikons) and historically advantaged (white universities) institutions. No evidence appears at hand to suggest that these imbalances that impede technikon productivity are being addressed. Such elements have a direct bearing on the way society, institutions, individual scholars and funding organizations relate to tertiary education in general and technikons in particular. To determine the intenion behind national policy, key stakeholders among whom the Chief Executive Officer of the CTP the Manager of the National Research Foundations Technikon Programme were interviewed. The Directorate of Higher Education within the Department of Education was sent a questionnaire. Policy documents, including the Technikon Act (1993), the White Paper on Higher Education (1997), the White Paper on Science and Technology (WP on S & T) and the National Research Foundation Act (1999) were analysed. In the second phase of the study data were gathered by interviews with research managers of four technikons two historically advantaged (White technikons) and two historically disadvantaged (Black technikons). This study concentrates on the first phase of the enquiry. The Technikon Act of 1993 Technikons in South Africa developed from the Colleges for Advanced Technical Education (CATE) with the passing of the Advanced Technical Education Amendment Act 43 in 1979. According to the former Department of National Education, technikons were never intended to be research institutions. They were created to be primarily involved in the provision and development of person power for promoting and practising technology (National Education Policy Report, NATED 02-150). The move to becoming research institutions came with the passing of the Technikon Act in 1993. Prior to 1993, while technikons were not specifically prohibited from conducting research, they only offered 2-year certificates and 3-year diplomas. The technikons could neither attract the calibre of students to enrol for postgraduate degrees nor the staff members who could conduct research and supervise postgraduate studies. This was a major impediment to their research development. According to Professor Du Pre, Executive Officer of the CTP, central to the rationale for technikons offering degrees and conducting research was the presence of y a huge hole in the ground when it came to high level research and South Africa was lagging behind most countries in the development of applied research. He noted: when one looks at the United States and one looks at the MITs and Silicone Valleys which became the incubators for your products, we did not have a situation in this country where anyone was being encouraged to innovate (Personal Interview: February, 18th 2001 In the late 1980s, much debate took place within the technikon sector, over what was needed to enhance applied research and encourage innovation (Haag, 1995; van Rensburg, 1995). The technikons convinced the then National Department of Education that granting them the power to confer degrees would give a new impetus to technikon research. The lobbying paid off and the Technikon Act was subsequently passed in 1993, opening new opportunities for building links between technikons and wider local communities, with industry and regional involvement stimulating socially relevant research. Expectations had been that the applied nature of technikon research would focus on research in context and would produce results that would make a substantial difference to the economy, to the material needs and conditions of people in the country for which the White Paper on Science and Technology had pressed: Traditional ways of producing knowledge within single disciplines and institutions are being supplemented by knowledge generated within applied contexts. This is knowledge that is collaboratively created within multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary research programmes directed at specific problems identified within social and economic systems (p. 10) With the exception of one Research Manager from a historically disadvantaged technikon, all those interviewed in this study believed that granting technikons full research status was a good decision. The one Research Manager who took the contrary line did so on the following grounds: This was a very unfortunate decision because it has put technikons in the ring with universities and they are not prepared you know just by offering BTech and MTech or a doctorate does not mean you can play the gamey (Personal Interview: February 2001) Universities also voiced reservations about the research status of technikons. In an interview, the CEO of the CTP suggested there was tremendous resistance by universities to prevent technikons awarding degrees. Even when they did, the universities barred them from using the university nomenclature of BA, BSc or MA. Thus, technikons use a different nomenclature of BTech, MTech. (Interview: February 2001). Despite differing views about the Technikon Act in 1993 (and its amendment in 1995) it was certainly a watershed in the history of technikon research. Less evident are the major challenges and commitments to be met and made if the original dream was to become reality. These challenges are discussed below. Assessing Key Policy Documents on Higher Education To determine the original intentions, we examine legislation, introduced since 1994 and relating to research. They include the White Paper 3 on Higher Education, the Higher Education Act, theWhite Paper on Science and Technology, the National Research Foundation Act and the Committee of Technikon Principals, document on Research Philosophy for South African Technikons (2000), a major document produced after 1994 by the CTP on research. The White Paper 3 on higher education (WP3 on HE) This document set out an overall framework for restructuring higher education, moving it from a fragmented, dysfunctional system to a single coordinated system of higher education. It deals with issues of equity, redress, quality and efficiency. It does not address research in great detail. Analysing some of the relevant sections where interpretation may directly or indirectly have consequences for research is indispensable seeing that it is an overarching document that underpinned change in higher education in South Africa. Among the topics included were autonomy, academic freedom and equity. Central to this analysis is what it says about research and how that impacts on the position of technikons as research institutions. Institutional autonomy and academic freedom were defined in the White Paper as a high degree of self-regulation and administrative independence with respect to student admissions, curriculum, methods of teaching and assessment, research, establishment of academic regulations and internal management of resources generated from private and public institutions. (Chapter 1: 1.21). In a democratic society, while it is critical for academic institutions to maintain independence, arguably the South African context is complex enough to justify legislative intervention to correct historical imbalances. On Equity the White Paper 3 states: A major mechanism to attain equity in the higher education system is redress, which constitutes one of the most significant components of the transformation agenda. Applying the principles of equity implies, on the one hand, a critical identification of existing inequalities, and on the other a programme of transformation with a view to redress. Such transformation includes not only abolishing all existing forms of unjust differentiation, but also measures of empowerment to bring about opportunity for individuals and institutions. (Ibid, Chapter 1: 1.15) Funding for Research: White Paper 3 classifies research as specific purposes funding and further, public funds for participation in research, should not be spread across all faculties or schools in all institutions but should rather be concentrated in those areas where there is demonstrable research capacity or potential. (Ibid. 4: 44) While the general principle is acceptable, it is open to misinterpretation. If we insist that funding be directed to institutions where capacity and potential are demonstrable, we are likely to promote research in traditionally white universities to the detriment of technikons and black universities. Developing research capacity and potential in the technikons, which is currently low, is an issue emotionally charged and one requiring political commitment. National funding institutions such as the National Research Foundation (NRF) argue, however, that they are developing capacities and potential of precisely these institutions (see discussion under NRF Act). Evidently, the policy lacks internal consistency. On the one hand, it advocates equity between institutions. On the other, it inadvertently applies discriminatory criteria for funding that perpetuate the research hierarchy put in place by apartheid. The Higher Education Act (Act No 101, 1997) (HE Act) In its preamble, the Higher Education Act (Ministry of Education, 1997) intends to respect and encourage democracy, academic freedom, freedom of speech and expression, creativity, scholarship and research. It evokes the need for higher education to contribute to the advancement of all forms of knowledge and scholarship, in keeping with international standards. It promises to address the past imbalances in funding the higher education system. Despite the positive spirit of the Act, little has been done achieve these noble goals at a practical level. While White Paper 3 unequivocally stated that research will be concentrated where demonstrable capacity and potential exist, the Higher Education Act supports the advancement of all forms of knowledge and scholarship. This tension emerges in administering research funds by the NRF major funding agency, which is discussed later. The White Paper on Science and Technology (WP on S&T) The White Paper on Science and Technology covered the research agenda for South Africa more comprehensively than either the White Paper 3 or the N.A. Ogude et al. Higher Education Act. It proposed a National System of Innovation. Its approach to research, all-encompassing and inclusive, included fundamental, applied, social and human sciences research. For the first time, technikons were specifically identified as institutions able to play a significant role, particularly in innovation. On innovation, the document stated: No government can order innovation to take place, but government can ensure that a competent pool of expertise from which innovation can spring is grown and maintained. (p. 10) It called for collaboration between and within universities, technikons, between the science council and private sector research laboratories in a way optimal at national level. And for solving real problems, whether in industry, agriculture, defence or basic research. While emphasizing innovation and applied research, it noted that fundamental research should not be deemed impractical. Rather, it is the preserver of standards without which, in the long term, the applied sciences would die. The White Paper on S&T sets national goals in the light of global competitiveness and competitive pressures on the South African economy as it opened up to the global market. It designated the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology (DACST) as the national ministry responsible for science and technology, to promote coherence and consistency. Likewise, the NRF acted as the agency responsible for supporting research and research capacity building. Unlike the White Paper 3 on Higher Education, it is congruent with the Higher Education Act. It indicated that all areas of research will be eligible for support, as will basic and applied research and activities of technological development (p. 33). Absent from this legislation was the acknowledgement of the differentiation in research capabilities between technikons and universities. Although the need for historically disadvantaged institutions to be assisted in research is recognized, no clear indication was given that technikons are historically disadvantaged in the research. One further shortcoming stood out. While the DACST set the goals for research, the Department of Education (DoE) was responsible for the research funding formula, thereby revealing a lack of alignment between national research policy and the research funding formula. While the White Paper on Science & Technology opted for an integrated approach to research, the South African Post Secondary Education (SAPSE) funding formula still works in traditional manner recognizing research outputs that underpin a research approach based on disciplines. The NRF Act The NRF Act committed itself y to support and promote research through funding, human resource development and the provision of the necessary research facilities in order to facilitate the creation of knowledge, innovation and development in all fields of science and technology, including indigenous knowledge and thereby to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of all the people in the Republic (1998: 4). It has already been pointed out that the NRF was identified as the agency for the support of research and research capacity building in higher education. Not unexpectedly, the NRF Act took its cue from the White Paper on S&T. This emerges from the above statement, which is comprehensive unlike the one cited from the White Paper 3 on Higher Education. However, the NRF has brought together both the principles in the WP3 on HE and WP on S&T inasmuch as it supported research in technikons with largely positive effects but not without some detrimental ones as well. Policy Intentions and Implementation Constraints The contradictions singled out in the policy documents above have given rise to several practical problems at the implementation stage and involving the NRF and the DoE that administers the SAPSE system for rewarding research output. Policy Implementation by the NRF Four themes have emerged that sum up the assessment by actors of how well NRF implemented national policy through its Technikon Programme. These are: 1. The build up of a general research momentum through funding and to a lesser extent through developing research capacity. 2. A perceived bias towards the natural sciences and funding allocating on NRF registered activity areas. 3. Adoption of academic- (read pure) driven research rather vocational- (read applied) driven research models. 4. The failure to grasp the full extent of the challenges posed by research capacity within technikons. In part, this relates to the problem of a massive proportion of technikon staff whose careers have not been researchoriented, and the traditional link between academic qualifications and research capability. Impetus for research: For the first time, in direct contrast to the policy documents analysed so far, the NRF seemed to draw a clear distinction between the challenges of technikon research as opposed to university research. Through a dual partnership of the Foundation and the Technikons, it created a sheltered environment for technikon research, moving away from an established university driven perspective. According to one of the technikon Research Managers the criteria was unfair, looking at our history, we had to change, the whole situation to enable us to gain capacity, because it is a tricky situation. You need capacity, then you need other staff and then you need qualifications to access funds, so where do you start? (Interview: Pretoria Technikon, February 2001). On the same occasion, the research manager at Pretoria Technikon pointed out that providing a sheltered environment took a lot of persuasion and many meetings to convince the NRF to implement the programme. Despite initial reservations about a separate Technikon Research Support Programme, its final emergence was a turning point in developing a research culture in technikons. The Technikon Programme has, however, experienced a number of problems in implementation. Some are discussed below. Perceived bias towards the natural sciences and funding allocating on NRF registered activity areas. The NRF was established in 1999 as an autonomous statutory. It combined functions previously performed separately by the former Foundation for Research Development (FRD) and the Centre for Science Development (CSD) for each of the natural sciences, human sciences, health sciences and environmental and agricultural science. The FRD focused on the natural and physical sciences, the CSD on the human and social sciences. The history of the CSD and the FRD and the difficulties in their merger to form the National Research Foundation is partly to blame for the perceived bias towards the natural sciences and engineering. The Technikon Programme was started by the former FRD. The CSD, although it had a programme to support technikon research, was not as aggressively pursued as the Technikon Programme. The predecessors of the NRF operated distinct programmes with the NRF, which is largely perceived to be dominated by the former FRD research ethos and thinking. According to one of the Research Managers interviewed: its (NRF) bias is towards the natural sciences and engineering and the worst is to come now, now the human sciences are the question of big brother swallowing a smaller brother, every time we submitted we said, please retain the good part of the CSD programme because we worked quite hard and succeeded on that. (Interview, Cape Technikon, February 2001) This kind of bias is also revealed through interviews with the Technikon Programme Manager: Well, I think because of the nature of technikons they are more geared towards technology, the natural inclination would be towards what is in natural science and engineering y because whatever social science and human research is done is more in the support of technology. (Personal Interview, NRF, February 2001) This approach saw the NRF through its Technikon Programme vigorously supporting those technikons, strong in the natural sciences and engineering. Certainly, backing the natural sciences and engineering is important and crucial in the South African context. There are technikons whose role in other areas such as criminal justice and policing, development of entrepreneurial skills, violence, crime and HIV management programmes, is no less crucial. Technikon research cuts across all disciplines. Indeed, some technikons are stronger in the social and human sciences than they are in the natural sciences and engineering (Figaji, 1997). The impression is also present that the Technikon Programme was launched with specific conditions that seem to go against the spirit of innovation, set out in the WP on S&T. The Activity Areas approach seems to stem from the WP3 on HE, which called for allocating funds in those areas where there is demonstrable research capacity. The Technikon Programme has ample funding for institutions. However, the precondition is that the application must fit into an approved NRF Activity Area at the technikon at which the staff member is employed. This places restrictions on applications. The policy of forcing researchers to work together was part of the problem. So was the other aspect associated with it namely, leaving out researchers not part of the Activity Area. For not only did the researchers suffer, Their postgraduate students suffered as well since funding for postgraduate studies is often linked to the supervisors grant. The following quotation illustrates some of the effects: We have far more researchers at a senior level outside the Technikon Programme than within the Technikon Programme, and my concern is that those outside cannot get in we feel that research and technology should start with problems experienced by industry, community partnerships and then we work backwards to formalise our research partnerships for funding technology transfer, that has hurt us, so that has hurt us and I can see the tensions in the Technikon Programme around activity areas, the focus areas is a much more better approachy. (Personal Interview, Cape Technikon, February 2001) Despite these strictures, the Technikon Programme provided sufficient impetus for research in some technikons, particularly those with capacity and a bias to the natural sciences and engineering (Uken, 1995). Some of them Pretoria, Port Elizabeth and Cape Technikons whose Research Managers were interviewed in the second phase of the study are now on the way to being leaders in such niche areas as Information Security, Telecommunications and Expert Systems among others. Adoption of Academic-driven research ethos: At universities, research is commonly accepted as an integral part of scholarship. Some of them have carried out research since their establishment in the early 1900s. Building a research culture is a long and arduous task, one to which the NRF as the nations main research-funding agency must sustain over the long term through its Technikon Programme. The NRF also stressed the role of the Technikon Programme in developing individual research capacity through postgraduate training. Given that technikons lacked developed programmes, most technikon researchers are currently forced to acquire further postgraduate training at universities, which influences their research and teaching at technikons. Universities, apparently, have not revised their training to impart the spirit of a National System of Innovation, NSI. The WP on S&T, commenting on postgraduate study, noted: New approaches to education and training need to be developed that will equip researchers to work more effectively in an innovative society. This will require new curricula and training programmes that are comprehensive, holistic and flexible, rather than narrowly discipline_based. Education and training in an innovative society should not trap people within constraining specialities, but enable them to participate and adopt a problem-solving approach to social and economic issues within and across disciplines (p. 13). Training technikon researchers in academic-driven postgraduate programmes while expecting them to contribute to context-based multidisciplinary research, challenges the very nature of academic monodisciplinarity in which they are trained. For technikons, this poses a complex dilemma. It questions the relevance of postgraduate training and above all, the extent to which technikon researchers may achieve their original goals should they be heavily dependent on postgraduate training offered in universities. The argument that insists on the indissolvable link between research output and postgraduate experience is also suspect. While plausible within a university setting, the situation in technikons requires a more nuanced and flexible approach that takes into account the huge cohort of technikon staff with valuable hands-on research experience from industry. Many see themselves as researchers in their own right. As such, they have no immediate desire to enroll for postgraduate studies. For them, a different developmental path in research is, therefore, necessary. It may well entail introducing them to the rigour and ethical dimensions of research, not always present in the routine research protocol associated with industry. Workshops on research supervision, research methods, statistical packages, conference paper writing skills might handle these aspects. Although some work has been done on this by the NRF, the recognition, for funding purposes of combined research expertise acquired from industry and by technikons researchers via capacity building workshops, remains unresolved. The value of postgraduate experience in research should not be underestimated. However, it is important to recognize that not every postgraduate experience will translate into good research. Policy implementation by the DoE Although the Higher Education Directorate (DoE) opted to answer written questions, their response to the questionnaire was too brief to provide insight into what the Directorate perceived as its role in research development within technikons. The little information provided showed an apparent lack of appreciation of the role of technikons in research. The Directorate saw the passing of the Technikon Act as a status enhancing legislation; they observed: the aim is partially realised because the status of technikons has grown considerably. Technikons have become more attractive to students than they were before. Technikons are beginning to produce research which is evaluated for subsidy purposes. This suggests a very narrow conception of research at technikons. While technikons, the CTP and the NRF saw research in terms of the substantial benefits likely to accrue to higher education if technikon research was pursued rigorously, the DoE saw it purely in terms of the value or status likely to accrue to technikons from research. One of the main stumbling blocks in the implementation has been the policy makers themselves who appear to hold conservative notion about what technikons should do and how they should do it. Despite the priority of strengthening technikon research, conservative views plus delay in reviewing the funding (SAPSE) system have slowed the pace down. The shortcomings of the Department of Educations SAPSE system for rewarding research has been commented upon (Byrne, 1997; Merisotis and Gillend, 1999; Ogude and Motha, 2001). Common to articles analysing the SAPSE scheme is the wish to replace it by one more workable system and to eliminate its major shortcomings among which are the bias towards institutions with a well-established research culture, undue weight on publishing for the sake of publishing and the competition for outstanding academics at the expense of their younger counterparts. Claims on Technikon Research and Pointers to Success This section assesses the success of technikon research against the original intentions of national policy, particularly those accompanying both the passing of the Technikon Act and the White Paper on Science and Technology. These intentions may be summarized as follows: 1. To encourage innovation, develop research capacity in technology-oriented research thereby covering a gap in South African research. 2. To move towards a National System of Innovation, which implies the solving of problems in context, by means of multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary research and collaboration between, and among, researchers from industry, higher education and science councils. 3. To forge international links in research and strive to be competitive globally. Several claims were made about the achievements of technikon research. Many were made at a sectoral level by the CTP. They appear to have been underpinned by the view that, according to the CEO of the CTP technikons have seen themselves as all historically disadvantaged and have learnt to share ideas and resources. Accordingly, the role of the CTP and its views as to what constitutes the success of technikon research will be scrutinized. The committee of technikon principals The role of the CTP in stimulating research at technikons seems to be facilitatory rather than assisting technikons with specific programmes, for instance, research capacity building. The major milestone was the publication of The Research Philosophy for Technikons. Besides this document, the CTP played an advocacy role and facilitated links between various institutions. A brief critique of the CTP document follows: The document on the Research Philosophy for Technikons (CTP, 2000) drew upon various policy documents, for instance, on the White Paper on Science and Technology and the Education White Paper 3. One criticism that may be leveled against the Research Philosophy is its echoing the traditional wisdom that technikons, have as their primary task, the application of technology and should preferably not engage in basic research. This is problematic at two levels: First, it has tended to convey the impression that applied research is confined to the natural sciences and engineering and not to the human and social sciences. Given the generic understanding of technikons, this is perhaps understandable. As was argued earlier, it tends to have lost sight of the complex way in which the South African technikons have reached out to envelop among others, such fields as criminal justice, police practice and job creation. Second, it is important for technikons to keep abreast of developments in basic research. Without this applied research cannot survive. While it is pragmatic and sensible that technikons concentrate their efforts on applied research for various reasons not least of which being resources, the assumption that applied research is the preserve of technikons and basic research the preserve of universities is misleading. Universities have evolved tremendously from conducting basic research towards diverse forms of researchapplied included. Many universities and science councils in South Africa have long conducted contract research. In the case of science councils so marked has this involvement been that Jeenah (1998, 18) contends that they have moved rather far in the direction of applied research and that they should, in fact, move somewhat back towards fundamental and basic research. This swing to applied research has been attributed in part to a system of framework autonomy introduced by the former Department of National Education. The requirement was for science councils to become financially autonomous by reorienting their research portfolios towards contract work and especially applied research and servicing activities (Mokhele, 1998, 28). Yet, it is important to acknowledge that technikons are strategically positioned to undertake applied research by virtue of their close collaboration with industry. More specifically, their involvement in cooperative education enables students to obtain practical experience in commerce or industry prior to obtaining qualifications. Visions and Achievements In spite of limitations in the CTP document, the interview with its CEO revealed considerable commitment to and a genuine passion for, research at technikons. From the interview, there is no doubt the CTP has played a crucial role on behalf of the sector in pressing for change in the funding (SAPSE) formula to include technikons. After 1994, lobbying to revise the SAPSE formula started with the former Minister of Education, Professor Bengu, who agreed in principle. However, the process stalled until the current Minister of Education took up office. Once again the matter was raised although overshadowed by the debate on the size and shape of higher education in South Africa. The CTP was successful in convincing technikons about what type of research they should engage in with particular emphasis on the Applied Natural Sciences and Engineering. Whatever ones view on the matter, technikons have curved a niche for themselves and are fully committed to its realization. The CEO of the CTP also pointed to what he considered the main successes of technikon research thus far. His view was that Technikons are filling the original gap in terms of technology-oriented research. They are also collaborating more than universities. Furthermore, he claimed that the research output of the five top technikons is higher than that of the bottom ten universities even though technikons only started conducting research recently. He attributed the success of technikon research so far to the apparent lack of emphasis on the disparities between institutions. He noted that in spite the fact that technikons are racially divided like other South African public institutions they seem to have collectively seen themselves as disadvantaged vis-a`-vis universities. This and a combination of factors, such as visionary leadership, brought them closer together and launched them on a pathway with the potential to take South African higher education out of its current racial divide. Despite obvious disparities in infrastructure, resources both human and financial, the CTP claims that technikons have maximized and capitalized on the sitting of their institutions, whether urban or rural, by engaging in research that addresses the pressing needs of the communities within which they are located. They are also intent on harnessing and maximizing their research potential by collaborating and sharing resources at national and regional levels and forging international linkages. The following excerpts from the Executive Officer of the CTP, capture these views nicely: The interesting thing is that there is a very strong Historically Disadvantaged Institutions/Historically Advantaged Institutions * divide within universities. But I see a different spirit of co-operation within technikons. I thought at some stage, the Historically Disadvantaged technikons would feel very isolated, very inferior. But, I have noticed that, they all consider themselves to be Historically Disadvantaged Institutions and this has left a cohesive attitude. A second thing is that within the universities, South African Universities Vice Chancellors Association determines its budget for the year using some formula depending on the institution. We split it equally among all the institutions, small or large. This has resulted in institutions feeling that they are on par. In what might be one of the best illustrations of how the National System of Innovation might work, he gave an example of how three technikons, Border, Eastern Cape and Port Elizabeth, one with the idea, the other with expertise and the third with infrastructure, collaborated in a project. He also indicated that Technikon Northern Gauteng (TNG), Technikon NorthWest (TNW) and Pretoria Technikon signed a cooperation agreement: For instance if there is someone at Technikon Pretora who can assist with a particular teaching component for a masters programme, he come over and assist in TNG and if TNG needs a lab they can go over to Pretoria, and if TNW has a machine, people go over to TNW to do the research there. So, although they are three separate institutions, they instead of duplicating infrastructure and staff they y rotate. They also share international research fellows and visitors. Examples of Working Together Regarding the type of research technikons do, he said that technikons have aligned their missions and vision to providing career-focused, and technologically oriented programmes. He indicated that all technikons research takes industry and commerce into account. For example, Port Elizabeth Technikon being in the heart of the motor manufacturing industry in the Eastern Cape, forged a partnership with Volkswagen South Africa. Port Elizabeth Technikon students now go to a classroom in the VW assembly where they undertake research development, testing and experimentation for VW. Pretoria Technikon has also exploited its surroundings, being close to Pretoria University, the CSIR and the SABS. The siting has allowed them to identify common strengths and capacities. Together, they are involved in a broad range of collaborative research projects, making bullet metals and armoured plating among them. Technikon Pretoria is also involved in defence research. Technikon Northern Gauteng, located in Rosslyn, where the BMW assembly plant is, recently developed collaborative partnership with BMW and a German company It entails using computer testing technology to diagnose running problems in automobiles. Nissan has declared an interest in joining the partnership. Working together will give staff members at TNG the opportunity to visit Germany and to gain research experience. In the case of rural technikons, such as Mangosuthu and others, having analysed their weaknesses and strengths, they are currently engaged in identifying reviewing what they may contribute to the development of rural areas, and particularly in the application of technology to this purpose. These and other examples from the CTP suggest that technikons are playing a crucial role in extending South Africas capacity for research and development. References Byrne, D. (1997) Research in a funding jungle: the South African research accreditation system, Scrutiny 2: Issues in English Studies in Southern Africa 1: 115. Committee of Technikon Principals (2000) Research Philosophy for Technikons in South Africa, Pretoria: Committee of Technikon Principals. Council on Higher Education Annual Report (1998/99). Figaji, B. (1997) How should technikons be integrated into the higher education research system? The Role of University Research in South Africa amidst the Uncertainties of Transition, Proceedings of a Workshop organised by the Foundation for Research Development in collaboration with the Committee of University Principals, Pretoria, FRD. Gultig, J. (2000) The University in post-apartheid South Africa: new ethos and new divisions, South African Journal of Higher Education 14(1): 3752. Haag, D.E. (1995) Trials and Tribulations of Technikon Research. Technikon Research Development: The RDP Challenge, Proceedings of an International Conference organised by CSD, FRD & Technikons; 2627 June 1995; Pretoria, CSD, FRD & Technikons. Jeenah, M.S. (1998) The emerging new S & T policy context: challenges and opportunities, Proceedings of a Workshop on Postgraduate Training and Research: Strategic Perspectives, SAUVCA. (Publication series 98/3.) Mokhele, K. (1998) The National Research Foundation: new realities require new approaches to research funding, Proceedings of a Workshop on Postgraduate Training and Research: Strategic Perspectives, SAUVCA. (Publication series 98/3.). Merisotis, J.P. and Gilleland, D.S. (1999) Funding South African Higher Education: Steering Mechanism to Meet National Goals, Pretoria & Washington: Centre for Higher Education Transformation. Ministry of Education (1997) White Paper 3 on Higher Education. Published on the Internet at http://www.polity.org.za. National Education Policy Report, NATED 02-150. Ogude, N.A. and Motha, N.A. (2001) A proposal for an incentive scheme for the development of research at technikons, The South African Journal of Higher Education 15(3): 5865. Uken, E. (1995) Creating a meaningful technikon research culture, Technikon Research Development: The RDP Challenge, International Conference organised by CSD, FRD & Technikons, 2627 June 1995; Pretoria, CSD, FRD & Technikons. van Rensburg, D. (1995) Technikon research development: the future role of echnikons in south Africa, Technikon Research Development: The RDP Challenge, International Conference organised by CSD, FRD & Technikons, 2627 June 1995; Pretoria, CSD, FRD & Technikons. -.UVW! 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ࡱ> %` bjbjٕ . L: !!!9999999$:hX=9,!!,,9 9888,  98,9888 w)ڮ 58990:8=7=8=8!j!%p8')!!!99u8 !!!:,,,,|$| Status and Evolution of Research within South African Technikons: A Critical Analysis N.A. Ogude, F.G. Netswera and T. Mavundla This article focuses on the redefinition of South Africas Colleges for Advanced Technical Education into research organizations in higher learning. It reports results of the first phase of a project into the impact of national policies intended to cultivate the culture of the much-needed applied research in higher education and to fill a gap left by universities. National policies were analysed and representatives from national policy-making bodies interviewed. Inconsistencies between the different policy documents, practical problems emerging at the implementation stage and views of the Technikon umbrella organization, on the progress so far made are discussed. Introduction Currently, two forms of research organizations in higher education, universities and technikons, exist in South Africa. Traditionally, Research in these institutions is perceived by wider society and academia in general, as basic in the former and applied in the latter. Of the two, universities that have an established research culture receive the largest portion of research funds and resources from government and other funding agencies. In spite of the large amounts spent on research in universities, they are viewed as unable to address such pressing societal needs as eradicating poverty. Commitment to basic research left a vacuum which technikons as institutions given over to applied research by virtue of their close association with industry, could address. In the early 1990s against this backdrop, the Principals of all 15 technikons in South Africa lobbied strongly for technikons to award undergraduate and postgraduate degrees thus enhancing their research capabilities. The Technikon Act of 1993, conferred degree awarding status on technikons. Since then technikons in South Africa have been engaged in developing a research culture among staff and delivering the much-needed applied research they are ready to do. However, a number of problems, some systemic and external, others macro- and micro-institutional, have hampered their efforts. At the institutional level, critical components indispensable for research to thrive, particularly infrastructure, funding, teaching loads and staff profiles, although adapting rapidly, remain more suited to teaching than to research. Thus, typical teaching loads in most technikons average 25 contact hours per week (Ogude and Motha, 2001). The lack of research capacity among the staff members, in particular, has been a major obstacle to progress. This article examines national problems, emerging at the implementation stage of legislation intended to fill the gap of applied research in South Africa. It analyses policy documents, their initial intentions and the challenges posed by implementation. Contradictions between various policy documents are also highlighted as are the implications that these contradictions entail for implementation. The task of technikons to fulfil their original mandate to conduct vital community-related research has been complicated considerably by such problems. The article concludes with an overview of how the technikons umbrella organization, the Committee of Technikon Principals (CTP) has assessed the achievements of the technikon sector in the light of the original policy intentions and despite the challenges experienced. Purpose of the Study This study focused on research in higher education and specifically in the technikons set against the complex landscape of South African higher education. Central to the study is a close analysis of national policies, their intent and implementation which effectively gave research status to technikons. The findings of the overall study, phases 1and 2, which is the outcome of analysing policy and of an empirical qualitative design, will shed light on the interplay between national policy, institutional culture and globalization as they shape research in technikons. Justification and Context A comprehensive study into technikon-based research in the South African context may be justified on a number of counts. Firstly, accurate information about the current status of research at South African technikons is, basically, lacking. Secondly, an imbalance exists between historically disadvantaged (black universities and technikons) and historically advantaged (white universities) institutions. No evidence appears at hand to suggest that these imbalances that impede technikon productivity are being addressed. Such elements have a direct bearing on the way society, institutions, individual scholars and funding organizations relate to tertiary education in general and technikons in particular. To determine the intenion behind national policy, key stakeholders among whom the Chief Executive Officer of the CTP the Manager of the National Research Foundations Technikon Programme were interviewed. The Directorate of Higher Education within the Department of Education was sent a questionnaire. Policy documents, including the Technikon Act (1993), the White Paper on Higher Education (1997), the White Paper on Science and Technology (WP on S & T) and the National Research Foundation Act (1999) were analysed. In the second phase of the study data were gathered by interviews with research managers of four technikons two historically advantaged (White technikons) and two historically disadvantaged (Black technikons). This study concentrates on the first phase of the enquiry. The Technikon Act of 1993 Technikons in South Africa developed from the Colleges for Advanced Technical Education (CATE) with the passing of the Advanced Technical Education Amendment Act 43 in 1979. According to the former Department of National Education, technikons were never intended to be research institutions. They were created to be primarily involved in the provision and development of person power for promoting and practising technology (National Education Policy Report, NATED 02-150). The move to becoming research institutions came with the passing of the Technikon Act in 1993. Prior to 1993, while technikons were not specifically prohibited from conducting research, they only offered 2-year certificates and 3-year diplomas. The technikons could neither attract the calibre of students to enrol for postgraduate degrees nor the staff members who could conduct research and supervise postgraduate studies. This was a major impediment to their research development. According to Professor Du Pre, Executive Officer of the CTP, central to the rationale for technikons offering degrees and conducting research was the presence of y a huge hole in the ground when it came to high level research and South Africa was lagging behind most countries in the development of applied research. He noted: when one looks at the United States and one looks at the MITs and Silicone Valleys which became the incubators for your products, we did not have a situation in this country where anyone was being encouraged to innovate (Personal Interview: February, 18th 2001 In the late 1980s, much debate took place within the technikon sector, over what was needed to enhance applied research and encourage innovation (Haag, 1995; van Rensburg, 1995). The technikons convinced the then National Department of Education that granting them the power to confer degrees would give a new impetus to technikon research. The lobbying paid off and the Technikon Act was subsequently passed in 1993, opening new opportunities for building links between technikons and wider local communities, with industry and regional involvement stimulating socially relevant research. Expectations had been that the applied nature of technikon research would focus on research in context and would produce results that would make a substantial difference to the economy, to the material needs and conditions of people in the country for which the White Paper on Science and Technology had pressed: Traditional ways of producing knowledge within single disciplines and institutions are being supplemented by knowledge generated within applied contexts. This is knowledge that is collaboratively created within multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary research programmes directed at specific problems identified within social and economic systems (p. 10) With the exception of one Research Manager from a historically disadvantaged technikon, all those interviewed in this study believed that granting technikons full research status was a good decision. The one Research Manager who took the contrary line did so on the following grounds: This was a very unfortunate decision because it has put technikons in the ring with universities and they are not prepared you know just by offering BTech and MTech or a doctorate does not mean you can play the gamey (Personal Interview: February 2001) Universities also voiced reservations about the research status of technikons. In an interview, the CEO of the CTP suggested there was tremendous resistance by universities to prevent technikons awarding degrees. Even when they did, the universities barred them from using the university nomenclature of BA, BSc or MA. Thus, technikons use a different nomenclature of BTech, MTech. (Interview: February 2001). Despite differing views about the Technikon Act in 1993 (and its amendment in 1995) it was certainly a watershed in the history of technikon research. Less evident are the major challenges and commitments to be met and made if the original dream was to become reality. These challenges are discussed below. Assessing Key Policy Documents on Higher Education To determine the original intentions, we examine legislation, introduced since 1994 and relating to research. They include the White Paper 3 on Higher Education, the Higher Education Act, theWhite Paper on Science and Technology, the National Research Foundation Act and the Committee of Technikon Principals, document on Research Philosophy for South African Technikons (2000), a major document produced after 1994 by the CTP on research. The White Paper 3 on higher education (WP3 on HE) This document set out an overall framework for restructuring higher education, moving it from a fragmented, dysfunctional system to a single coordinated system of higher education. It deals with issues of equity, redress, quality and efficiency. It does not address research in great detail. Analysing some of the relevant sections where interpretation may directly or indirectly have consequences for research is indispensable seeing that it is an overarching document that underpinned change in higher education in South Africa. Among the topics included were autonomy, academic freedom and equity. Central to this analysis is what it says about research and how that impacts on the position of technikons as research institutions. Institutional autonomy and academic freedom were defined in the White Paper as a high degree of self-regulation and administrative independence with respect to student admissions, curriculum, methods of teaching and assessment, research, establishment of academic regulations and internal management of resources generated from private and public institutions. (Chapter 1: 1.21). In a democratic society, while it is critical for academic institutions to maintain independence, arguably the South African context is complex enough to justify legislative intervention to correct historical imbalances. On Equity the White Paper 3 states: A major mechanism to attain equity in the higher education system is redress, which constitutes one of the most significant components of the transformation agenda. Applying the principles of equity implies, on the one hand, a critical identification of existing inequalities, and on the other a programme of transformation with a view to redress. Such transformation includes not only abolishing all existing forms of unjust differentiation, but also measures of empowerment to bring about opportunity for individuals and institutions. (Ibid, Chapter 1: 1.15) Funding for Research: White Paper 3 classifies research as specific purposes funding and further, public funds for participation in research, should not be spread across all faculties or schools in all institutions but should rather be concentrated in those areas where there is demonstrable research capacity or potential. (Ibid. 4: 44) While the general principle is acceptable, it is open to misinterpretation. If we insist that funding be directed to institutions where capacity and potential are demonstrable, we are likely to promote research in traditionally white universities to the detriment of technikons and black universities. Developing research capacity and potential in the technikons, which is currently low, is an issue emotionally charged and one requiring political commitment. National funding institutions such as the National Research Foundation (NRF) argue, however, that they are developing capacities and potential of precisely these institutions (see discussion under NRF Act). Evidently, the policy lacks internal consistency. On the one hand, it advocates equity between institutions. On the other, it inadvertently applies discriminatory criteria for funding that perpetuate the research hierarchy put in place by apartheid. The Higher Education Act (Act No 101, 1997) (HE Act) In its preamble, the Higher Education Act (Ministry of Education, 1997) intends to respect and encourage democracy, academic freedom, freedom of speech and expression, creativity, scholarship and research. It evokes the need for higher education to contribute to the advancement of all forms of knowledge and scholarship, in keeping with international standards. It promises to address the past imbalances in funding the higher education system. Despite the positive spirit of the Act, little has been done achieve these noble goals at a practical level. While White Paper 3 unequivocally stated that research will be concentrated where demonstrable capacity and potential exist, the Higher Education Act supports the advancement of all forms of knowledge and scholarship. This tension emerges in administering research funds by the NRF major funding agency, which is discussed later. The White Paper on Science and Technology (WP on S&T) The White Paper on Science and Technology covered the research agenda for South Africa more comprehensively than either the White Paper 3 or the N.A. Ogude et al. Higher Education Act. It proposed a National System of Innovation. Its approach to research, all-encompassing and inclusive, included fundamental, applied, social and human sciences research. For the first time, technikons were specifically identified as institutions able to play a significant role, particularly in innovation. On innovation, the document stated: No government can order innovation to take place, but government can ensure that a competent pool of expertise from which innovation can spring is grown and maintained. (p. 10) It called for collaboration between and within universities, technikons, between the science council and private sector research laboratories in a way optimal at national level. And for solving real problems, whether in industry, agriculture, defence or basic research. While emphasizing innovation and applied research, it noted that fundamental research should not be deemed impractical. Rather, it is the preserver of standards without which, in the long term, the applied sciences would die. The White Paper on S&T sets national goals in the light of global competitiveness and competitive pressures on the South African economy as it opened up to the global market. It designated the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology (DACST) as the national ministry responsible for science and technology, to promote coherence and consistency. Likewise, the NRF acted as the agency responsible for supporting research and research capacity building. Unlike the White Paper 3 on Higher Education, it is congruent with the Higher Education Act. It indicated that all areas of research will be eligible for support, as will basic and applied research and activities of technological development (p. 33). Absent from this legislation was the acknowledgement of the differentiation in research capabilities between technikons and universities. Although the need for historically disadvantaged institutions to be assisted in research is recognized, no clear indication was given that technikons are historically disadvantaged in the research. One further shortcoming stood out. While the DACST set the goals for research, the Department of Education (DoE) was responsible for the research funding formula, thereby revealing a lack of alignment between national research policy and the research funding formula. While the White Paper on Science & Technology opted for an integrated approach to research, the South African Post Secondary Education (SAPSE) funding formula still works in traditional manner recognizing research outputs that underpin a research approach based on disciplines. The NRF Act The NRF Act committed itself y to support and promote research through funding, human resource development and the provision of the necessary research facilities in order to facilitate the creation of knowledge, innovation and development in all fields of science and technology, including indigenous knowledge and thereby to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of all the people in the Republic (1998: 4). It has already been pointed out that the NRF was identified as the agency for the support of research and research capacity building in higher education. Not unexpectedly, the NRF Act took its cue from the White Paper on S&T. This emerges from the above statement, which is comprehensive unlike the one cited from the White Paper 3 on Higher Education. However, the NRF has brought together both the principles in the WP3 on HE and WP on S&T inasmuch as it supported research in technikons with largely positive effects but not without some detrimental ones as well. Policy Intentions and Implementation Constraints The contradictions singled out in the policy documents above have given rise to several practical problems at the implementation stage and involving the NRF and the DoE that administers the SAPSE system for rewarding research output. Policy Implementation by the NRF Four themes have emerged that sum up the assessment by actors of how well NRF implemented national policy through its Technikon Programme. These are: 1. The build up of a general research momentum through funding and to a lesser extent through developing research capacity. 2. A perceived bias towards the natural sciences and funding allocating on NRF registered activity areas. 3. Adoption of academic- (read pure) driven research rather vocational- (read applied) driven research models. 4. The failure to grasp the full extent of the challenges posed by research capacity within technikons. In part, this relates to the problem of a massive proportion of technikon staff whose careers have not been researchoriented, and the traditional link between academic qualifications and research capability. Impetus for research: For the first time, in direct contrast to the policy documents analysed so far, the NRF seemed to draw a clear distinction between the challenges of technikon research as opposed to university research. Through a dual partnership of the Foundation and the Technikons, it created a sheltered environment for technikon research, moving away from an established university driven perspective. According to one of the technikon Research Managers the criteria was unfair, looking at our history, we had to change, the whole situation to enable us to gain capacity, because it is a tricky situation. You need capacity, then you need other staff and then you need qualifications to access funds, so where do you start? (Interview: Pretoria Technikon, February 2001). On the same occasion, the research manager at Pretoria Technikon pointed out that providing a sheltered environment took a lot of persuasion and many meetings to convince the NRF to implement the programme. Despite initial reservations about a separate Technikon Research Support Programme, its final emergence was a turning point in developing a research culture in technikons. The Technikon Programme has, however, experienced a number of problems in implementation. Some are discussed below. Perceived bias towards the natural sciences and funding allocating on NRF registered activity areas. The NRF was established in 1999 as an autonomous statutory. It combined functions previously performed separately by the former Foundation for Research Development (FRD) and the Centre for Science Development (CSD) for each of the natural sciences, human sciences, health sciences and environmental and agricultural science. The FRD focused on the natural and physical sciences, the CSD on the human and social sciences. The history of the CSD and the FRD and the difficulties in their merger to form the National Research Foundation is partly to blame for the perceived bias towards the natural sciences and engineering. The Technikon Programme was started by the former FRD. The CSD, although it had a programme to support technikon research, was not as aggressively pursued as the Technikon Programme. The predecessors of the NRF operated distinct programmes with the NRF, which is largely perceived to be dominated by the former FRD research ethos and thinking. According to one of the Research Managers interviewed: its (NRF) bias is towards the natural sciences and engineering and the worst is to come now, now the human sciences are the question of big brother swallowing a smaller brother, every time we submitted we said, please retain the good part of the CSD programme because we worked quite hard and succeeded on that. (Interview, Cape Technikon, February 2001) This kind of bias is also revealed through interviews with the Technikon Programme Manager: Well, I think because of the nature of technikons they are more geared towards technology, the natural inclination would be towards what is in natural science and engineering y because whatever social science and human research is done is more in the support of technology. (Personal Interview, NRF, February 2001) This approach saw the NRF through its Technikon Programme vigorously supporting those technikons, strong in the natural sciences and engineering. Certainly, backing the natural sciences and engineering is important and crucial in the South African context. There are technikons whose role in other areas such as criminal justice and policing, development of entrepreneurial skills, violence, crime and HIV management programmes, is no less crucial. Technikon research cuts across all disciplines. Indeed, some technikons are stronger in the social and human sciences than they are in the natural sciences and engineering (Figaji, 1997). The impression is also present that the Technikon Programme was launched with specific conditions that seem to go against the spirit of innovation, set out in the WP on S&T. The Activity Areas approach seems to stem from the WP3 on HE, which called for allocating funds in those areas where there is demonstrable research capacity. The Technikon Programme has ample funding for institutions. However, the precondition is that the application must fit into an approved NRF Activity Area at the technikon at which the staff member is employed. This places restrictions on applications. The policy of forcing researchers to work together was part of the problem. So was the other aspect associated with it namely, leaving out researchers not part of the Activity Area. For not only did the researchers suffer, Their postgraduate students suffered as well since funding for postgraduate studies is often linked to the supervisors grant. The following quotation illustrates some of the effects: We have far more researchers at a senior level outside the Technikon Programme than within the Technikon Programme, and my concern is that those outside cannot get in we feel that research and technology should start with problems experienced by industry, community partnerships and then we work backwards to formalise our research partnerships for funding technology transfer, that has hurt us, so that has hurt us and I can see the tensions in the Technikon Programme around activity areas, the focus areas is a much more better approachy. (Personal Interview, Cape Technikon, February 2001) Despite these strictures, the Technikon Programme provided sufficient impetus for research in some technikons, particularly those with capacity and a bias to the natural sciences and engineering (Uken, 1995). Some of them Pretoria, Port Elizabeth and Cape Technikons whose Research Managers were interviewed in the second phase of the study are now on the way to being leaders in such niche areas as Information Security, Telecommunications and Expert Systems among others. Adoption of Academic-driven research ethos: At universities, research is commonly accepted as an integral part of scholarship. Some of them have carried out research since their establishment in the early 1900s. Building a research culture is a long and arduous task, one to which the NRF as the nations main research-funding agency must sustain over the long term through its Technikon Programme. The NRF also stressed the role of the Technikon Programme in developing individual research capacity through postgraduate training. Given that technikons lacked developed programmes, most technikon researchers are currently forced to acquire further postgraduate training at universities, which influences their research and teaching at technikons. Universities, apparently, have not revised their training to impart the spirit of a National System of Innovation, NSI. The WP on S&T, commenting on postgraduate study, noted: New approaches to education and training need to be developed that will equip researchers to work more effectively in an innovative society. This will require new curricula and training programmes that are comprehensive, holistic and flexible, rather than narrowly discipline_based. Education and training in an innovative society should not trap people within constraining specialities, but enable them to participate and adopt a problem-solving approach to social and economic issues within and across disciplines (p. 13). Training technikon researchers in academic-driven postgraduate programmes while expecting them to contribute to context-based multidisciplinary research, challenges the very nature of academic monodisciplinarity in which they are trained. For technikons, this poses a complex dilemma. It questions the relevance of postgraduate training and above all, the extent to which technikon researchers may achieve their original goals should they be heavily dependent on postgraduate training offered in universities. The argument that insists on the indissolvable link between research output and postgraduate experience is also suspect. While plausible within a university setting, the situation in technikons requires a more nuanced and flexible approach that takes into account the huge cohort of technikon staff with valuable hands-on research experience from industry. Many see themselves as researchers in their own right. As such, they have no immediate desire to enroll for postgraduate studies. For them, a different developmental path in research is, therefore, necessary. It may well entail introducing them to the rigour and ethical dimensions of research, not always present in the routine research protocol associated with industry. Workshops on research supervision, research methods, statistical packages, conference paper writing skills might handle these aspects. Although some work has been done on this by the NRF, the recognition, for funding purposes of combined research expertise acquired from industry and by technikons researchers via capacity building workshops, remains unresolved. The value of postgraduate experience in research should not be underestimated. However, it is important to recognize that not every postgraduate experience will translate into good research. Policy implementation by the DoE Although the Higher Education Directorate (DoE) opted to answer written questions, their response to the questionnaire was too brief to provide insight into what the Directorate perceived as its role in research development within technikons. The little information provided showed an apparent lack of appreciation of the role of technikons in research. The Directorate saw the passing of the Technikon Act as a status enhancing legislation; they observed: the aim is partially realised because the status of technikons has grown considerably. Technikons have become more attractive to students than they were before. Technikons are beginning to produce research which is evaluated for subsidy purposes. This suggests a very narrow conception of research at technikons. While technikons, the CTP and the NRF saw research in terms of the substantial benefits likely to accrue to higher education if technikon research was pursued rigorously, the DoE saw it purely in terms of the value or status likely to accrue to technikons from research. One of the main stumbling blocks in the implementation has been the policy makers themselves who appear to hold conservative notion about what technikons should do and how they should do it. Despite the priority of strengthening technikon research, conservative views plus delay in reviewing the funding (SAPSE) system have slowed the pace down. The shortcomings of the Department of Educations SAPSE system for rewarding research has been commented upon (Byrne, 1997; Merisotis and Gillend, 1999; Ogude and Motha, 2001). Common to articles analysing the SAPSE scheme is the wish to replace it by one more workable system and to eliminate its major shortcomings among which are the bias towards institutions with a well-established research culture, undue weight on publishing for the sake of publishing and the competition for outstanding academics at the expense of their younger counterparts. Claims on Technikon Research and Pointers to Success This section assesses the success of technikon research against the original intentions of national policy, particularly those accompanying both the passing of the Technikon Act and the White Paper on Science and Technology. These intentions may be summarized as follows: 1. To encourage innovation, develop research capacity in technology-oriented research thereby covering a gap in South African research. 2. To move towards a National System of Innovation, which implies the solving of problems in context, by means of multidisciplinary and transdisciplinary research and collaboration between, and among, researchers from industry, higher education and science councils. 3. To forge international links in research and strive to be competitive globally. Several claims were made about the achievements of technikon research. Many were made at a sectoral level by the CTP. They appear to have been underpinned by the view that, according to the CEO of the CTP technikons have seen themselves as all historically disadvantaged and have learnt to share ideas and resources. Accordingly, the role of the CTP and its views as to what constitutes the success of technikon research will be scrutinized. The committee of technikon principals The role of the CTP in stimulating research at technikons seems to be facilitatory rather than assisting technikons with specific programmes, for instance, research capacity building. The major milestone was the publication of The Research Philosophy for Technikons. Besides this document, the CTP played an advocacy role and facilitated links between various institutions. A brief critique of the CTP document follows: The document on the Research Philosophy for Technikons (CTP, 2000) drew upon various policy documents, for instance, on the White Paper on Science and Technology and the Education White Paper 3. One criticism that may be leveled against the Research Philosophy is its echoing the traditional wisdom that technikons, have as their primary task, the application of technology and should preferably not engage in basic research. This is problematic at two levels: First, it has tended to convey the impression that applied research is confined to the natural sciences and engineering and not to the human and social sciences. Given the generic understanding of technikons, this is perhaps understandable. As was argued earlier, it tends to have lost sight of the complex way in which the South African technikons have reached out to envelop among others, such fields as criminal justice, police practice and job creation. Second, it is important for technikons to keep abreast of developments in basic research. Without this applied research cannot survive. While it is pragmatic and sensible that technikons concentrate their efforts on applied research for various reasons not least of which being resources, the assumption that applied research is the preserve of technikons and basic research the preserve of universities is misleading. Universities have evolved tremendously from conducting basic research towards diverse forms of researchapplied included. Many universities and science councils in South Africa have long conducted contract research. In the case of science councils so marked has this involvement been that Jeenah (1998, 18) contends that they have moved rather far in the direction of applied research and that they should, in fact, move somewhat back towards fundamental and basic research. This swing to applied research has been attributed in part to a system of framework autonomy introduced by the former Department of National Education. The requirement was for science councils to become financially autonomous by reorienting their research portfolios towards contract work and especially applied research and servicing activities (Mokhele, 1998, 28). Yet, it is important to acknowledge that technikons are strategically positioned to undertake applied research by virtue of their close collaboration with industry. More specifically, their involvement in cooperative education enables students to obtain practical experience in commerce or industry prior to obtaining qualifications. Visions and Achievements In spite of limitations in the CTP document, the interview with its CEO revealed considerable commitment to and a genuine passion for, research at technikons. From the interview, there is no doubt the CTP has played a crucial role on behalf of the sector in pressing for change in the funding (SAPSE) formula to include technikons. After 1994, lobbying to revise the SAPSE formula started with the former Minister of Education, Professor Bengu, who agreed in principle. However, the process stalled until the current Minister of Education took up office. Once again the matter was raised although overshadowed by the debate on the size and shape of higher education in South Africa. The CTP was successful in convincing technikons about what type of research they should engage in with particular emphasis on the Applied Natural Sciences and Engineering. Whatever ones view on the matter, technikons have curved a niche for themselves and are fully committed to its realization. The CEO of the CTP also pointed to what he considered the main successes of technikon research thus far. His view was that Technikons are filling the original gap in terms of technology-oriented research. They are also collaborating more than universities. Furthermore, he claimed that the research output of the five top technikons is higher than that of the bottom ten universities even though technikons only started conducting research recently. He attributed the success of technikon research so far to the apparent lack of emphasis on the disparities between institutions. He noted that in spite the fact that technikons are racially divided like other South African public institutions they seem to have collectively seen themselves as disadvantaged vis-a`-vis universities. This and a combination of factors, such as visionary leadership, brought them closer together and launched them on a pathway with the potential to take South African higher education out of its current racial divide. Despite obvious disparities in infrastructure, resources both human and financial, the CTP claims that technikons have maximized and capitalized on the sitting of their institutions, whether urban or rural, by engaging in research that addresses the pressing needs of the communities within which they are located. They are also intent on harnessing and maximizing their research potential by collaborating and sharing resources at national and regional levels and forging international linkages. The following excerpts from the Executive Officer of the CTP, capture these views nicely: The interesting thing is that there is a very strong Historically Disadvantaged Institutions/Historically Advantaged Institutions * divide within universities. But I see a different spirit of co-operation within technikons. I thought at some stage, the Historically Disadvantaged technikons would feel very isolated, very inferior. But, I have noticed that, they all consider themselves to be Historically Disadvantaged Institutions and this has left a cohesive attitude. A second thing is that within the universities, South African Universities Vice Chancellors Association determines its budget for the year using some formula depending on the institution. We split it equally among all the institutions, small or large. This has resulted in institutions feeling that they are on par. In what might be one of the best illustrations of how the National System of Innovation might work, he gave an example of how three technikons, Border, Eastern Cape and Port Elizabeth, one with the idea, the other with expertise and the third with infrastructure, collaborated in a project. He also indicated that Technikon Northern Gauteng (TNG), Technikon NorthWest (TNW) and Pretoria Technikon signed a cooperation agreement: For instance if there is someone at Technikon Pretora who can assist with a particular teaching component for a masters programme, he come over and assist in TNG and if TNG needs a lab they can go over to Pretoria, and if TNW has a machine, people go over to TNW to do the research there. So, although they are three separate institutions, they instead of duplicating infrastructure and staff they y rotate. They also share international research fellows and visitors. Examples of Working Together Regarding the type of research technikons do, he said that technikons have aligned their missions and vision to providing career-focused, and technologically oriented programmes. He indicated that all technikons research takes industry and commerce into account. For example, Port Elizabeth Technikon being in the heart of the motor manufacturing industry in the Eastern Cape, forged a partnership with Volkswagen South Africa. Port Elizabeth Technikon students now go to a classroom in the VW assembly where they undertake research development, testing and experimentation for VW. Pretoria Technikon has also exploited its surroundings, being close to Pretoria University, the CSIR and the SABS. The siting has allowed them to identify common strengths and capacities. Together, they are involved in a broad range of collaborative research projects, making bullet metals and armoured plating among them. Technikon Pretoria is also involved in defence research. Technikon Northern Gauteng, located in Rosslyn, where the BMW assembly plant is, recently developed collaborative partnership with BMW and a German company It entails using computer testing technology to diagnose running problems in automobiles. Nissan has declared an interest in joining the partnership. Working together will give staff members at TNG the opportunity to visit Germany and to gain research experience. In the case of rural technikons, such as Mangosuthu and others, having analysed their weaknesses and strengths, they are currently engaged in identifying reviewing what they may contribute to the development of rural areas, and particularly in the application of technology to this purpose. These and other examples from the CTP suggest that technikons are playing a crucial role in extending South Africas capacity for research and development. References Byrne, D. (1997) Research in a funding jungle: the South African research accreditation system, Scrutiny 2: Issues in English Studies in Southern Africa 1: 115. Committee of Technikon Principals (2000) Research Philosophy for Technikons in South Africa, Pretoria: Committee of Technikon Principals. Council on Higher Education Annual Report (1998/99). Figaji, B. (1997) How should technikons be integrated into the higher education research system? The Role of University Research in South Africa amidst the Uncertainties of Transition, Proceedings of a Workshop organised by the Foundation for Research Development in collaboration with the Committee of University Principals, Pretoria, FRD. Gultig, J. (2000) The University in post-apartheid South Africa: new ethos and new divisions, South African Journal of Higher Education 14(1): 3752. Haag, D.E. (1995) Trials and Tribulations of Technikon Research. Technikon Research Development: The RDP Challenge, Proceedings of an International Conference organised by CSD, FRD & Technikons; 2627 June 1995; Pretoria, CSD, FRD & Technikons. Jeenah, M.S. (1998) The emerging new S & T policy context: challenges and opportunities, Proceedings of a Workshop on Postgraduate Training and Research: Strategic Perspectives, SAUVCA. (Publication series 98/3.) Mokhele, K. (1998) The National Research Foundation: new realities require new approaches to research funding, Proceedings of a Workshop on Postgraduate Training and Research: Strategic Perspectives, SAUVCA. (Publication series 98/3.). Merisotis, J.P. and Gilleland, D.S. (1999) Funding South African Higher Education: Steering Mechanism to Meet National Goals, Pretoria & Washington: Centre for Higher Education Transformation. Ministry of Education (1997) White Paper 3 on Higher Education. Published on the Internet at http://www.polity.org.za. National Education Policy Report, NATED 02-150. Ogude, N.A. and Motha, N.A. (2001) A proposal for an incentive scheme for the development of research at technikons, The South African Journal of Higher Education 15(3): 5865. Uken, E. (1995) Creating a meaningful technikon research culture, Technikon Research Development: The RDP Challenge, International Conference organised by CSD, FRD & Technikons, 2627 June 1995; Pretoria, CSD, FRD & Technikons. van Rensburg, D. (1995) Technikon research development: the future role of echnikons in south Africa, Technikon Research Development: The RDP Challenge, International Conference organised by CSD, FRD & Technikons, 2627 June 1995; Pretoria, CSD, FRD & Technikons. -.UVW! 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