| Boodskap van die Visekanselier | Umyalezo osuka kuSekela-Tshansela

The University of Cape Town (UCT) was again ranked number one in Africa in 2010 in three major international university rankings. These rankings are supported by a range of other indicators of excellence. For example, the level of impact of our research publications, the increasing number of postdoctoral fellows, the good graduation rate of master’s and doctoral students, the high level – despite the world-wide recession – of income generated through contracts and grants, and the excellent  rating of individual researchers by the National Research Foundation.

We are determined that our global reputation as a research-led university, linked with the many unique opportunities that our geographical position presents, should – in combination with our partners in South Africa and the rest of Africa – act as a magnet for researchers from around the world. As a university community we are especially pleased that our goal of being an Afropolitan university is bearing such good fruits. Some notable examples are the H3-D Drug Discovery and Development Centre which will focus on finding drugs that combat diseases prevalent on the continent; the interdisciplinary African Centre for Cities which provides leadership and research in urban development and policy; and the African Climate and Development Initiative, described further below.

In order to fulfil our ambition of being an intellectual hub that connects South Africa, the rest of Africa and the world, it is important that UCT should provide an enabling research environment, which includes not only a robust academic and physical research infrastructure, but also a supportive and welcoming institutional approach. This report discusses the detail of our many activities that are geared towards doing this. Of particular importance is the initiative to Grow the Next Generation of Academics highlighted on page xx. This is a new initiative that seeks to build on existing projects to develop research capacity at UCT and the rest of the continent. We are delighted to have assembled a consortium of funders and practitioners to build on existing mentorship projects.

Another initiative to foster research at UCT is the R20-million Vice-Chancellor’s strategic fund set up in 2009. We continued to disburse funds to noteworthy research initiatives that are aligned to the University’s strategic objectives. I would like to highlight in particular the pilot for the UCT Knowledge Co-Op which got under way in 2010. This is a virtual facility set to build much-needed bridges between UCT and society to enable more effective partnerships in solving key social issues.

Some of our top inventors and researchers at UCT are using applied research to address the country’s and the continent’s most complex issues, including HIV and tuberculosis, land rights, women’s rights and poverty alleviation. Examples of these innovations are highlighted on pages xxx of this report. In other areas, UCT is leading many curiosity-driven ‘blue-sky’ projects that are influencing scientific thinking at the global level.

In the past few years we have selectively focused our research activities, seeking to harness resources across the University to address major social and global challenges. In 2007 we launched our five signature themes and late in 2009 we added a sixth – the African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI). Through this initiative the University is focusing on climate variability and its impact on the continent. ACDI has stimulated debate and inspired the inception of cutting-edge research programmes. From understanding the effects of changing atmospheric CO2 to defining environmental governance for social justice, ACDI makes UCT a key player on the continent in tackling this global challenge. These developments are highlighted on pages xx of this report.

The pages that follow catalogue the breadth of research work being conducted at UCT but they cannot communicate fully the energy and excitement that underpin these activities. In many ways, the world-class research carried out by UCT should rank as one of South Africa’s proudest achievements. Certainly it merits the ongoing investment of our many local and international donors (including government), collaborators and funding agencies who help to make our work possible. We are, as always, grateful to our investment partners. In the year ahead we will seek to build on the achievements of 2010 and we look forward to their continued support and partnership in doing so.

Dr Max Price


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