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Tertiary Education Commission : National research week for the higher education sector

The first National Research Week for the higher education sector was organised by the Tertiary Education Commission from 08 to 11 May 2018.The event was organised nationally, with the support of the Tertiary Education and Scientific Research Division of the parent Ministry. The event successfully brought together all Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) of Mauritius under a single platform, to showcase their research and allow researchers to network with each another.

Research and development is critical for fuelling economic growth and is seen to play a pivotal role in transforming Mauritius into a knowledge hub and a centre of higher learning for the region.  Universities are supposed to be the fortresses of both knowledge creation and dissemination,and it is therefore unthinkable to envisage such institutions with no research activity.  Moreover, since research is the main criterion used for ranking universities globally, not having a research agenda is consequently not an option for our universities. Thus, in the quest to enhance the visibility of Mauritius as a quality higher education destination internationally, it has become essential that HEIs in Mauritius embrace research as an integral part of their activities. 

The National Research Week lasted for four days and constituted a milestone for the higher education sector in Mauritius. It was also an occasion for networking amongst researchers, with the hope that this would lead to inter- and intra-institutional collaborations which would usher a new era for research in the higher education sector. 

The outcome of the 2018 National Research Week has surpassed all expectations. The Tertiary Education Commission had registered more than 800 participants for the event. The event itself comprised 21 sessions grouped under four broad themes namely : Education; Social Sciences & Humanities; Technology & Engineering; and Business Law and Management, with over more than 100 oral presentations, 30 posters presentations, three international keynote addresses, one talk and three focus group discussions on strategies how to promote research.

At the close of the event, four awards were conferred to the best oral presentations,one in each of the themes. A prize rewarding the best poster was also conferred. These prizes recognise the excellence of presentation and set the standard for future National Research Week presentations.

The National Research Week is now set to become an annual event, to be organised jointly by the TEC and the parent Ministry responsible for Scientific Research. It is to be recalled that the organisation of a National Research Week for the higher education sector fits within the overall direction of the Government to promote a research agenda. In this regard, the Government had, in the 2017/18 Budget, injected an initial amount of MRU 50 million into a new Research Fund; the objective was to give a new stimulus to research within the higher education sector. This research fund is currently managed by TEC, which introduced and operationalised some 14 new research schemes in October 2017. These schemes are designed to meet the funding needs of the sector in various research domains, keeping in view the overall growth of the country, academic staff and students, through professional interfacing with international perspectives and goals.

The total project value of the research proposals received by TEC so far amounts to Rs 106 M, with the amount to be disbursed in the financial year 2017/18 earmarked at approximately Rs 39 M. These figures are encouraging and suggest that there is a significant appetite for research.

With the current investment to start the research agenda, the Executive Director, Professor Sid Nair, is of the view that “we have just started in what would be a greater involvement of research in the next financial year. We are progressing well and my view is that in around five years, we will be a powerhouse in this region.  For Mauritius to be this power house, public tertiary education institutions already indulging in research will need to build on their momentum, increasing both the amount and quality of research, while new players in the research field will need to think seriously as to how they can contribute to the country’s research effort. We will work hard to bring in innovation in the schemes this year and we look forward to another fantastic National Research Week in 2019”.

Cet article est publié dans le cadre d’une collaboration entre Le Défi Media Group et la Tertiary Education Commission.