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Wednesday, 30 September 2020

Research Chair welcomes cash injection from NRF

EXCEPTIONALLY DELIGHTED: The South African Research Chairs Initiative Chair in Work-integrated Learning, Prof Christine Winberg appreciates the funding from the National Research Foundation. EXCEPTIONALLY DELIGHTED: The South African Research Chairs Initiative Chair in Work-integrated Learning, Prof Christine Winberg appreciates the funding from the National Research Foundation.

The South African Research Chair(SARChI) in Work-integrated Learning, Prof Christine Winberg is “extremely” delighted that the programme’s funding will be renewed for another five years by the National Research Foundation (NRF).

The NRF provides R1.9 million per annum to the Chair for a five-year period. The funding provides salaries to the chair, for postdoctoral scholars, bursaries for up to 10 Master’s and Doctoral students, administrative and research support. The modest professor was awarded the Chair position in 2015 and took it up in 2016.  

Winberg says: “This is a renewal for 2021 to 2025. I am extremely pleased that the NRF decided to renew the [funding for the] Chair. The decision to renew was based on a rigorous peer-review process, so the renewal feels like a strong affirmation of my work in this field.”

In the current cycle, her work has focused on six projects that have funding that is separate from the NRF award.  The Chair has a project titled ‘Work-integrated Learning in the Laboratory’, which is funded by a DHET University Capacity Development Grant. She is also concluding a project on STEM Pedagogy with South African colleagues at UWC, Rhodes, Stellenbosch University (SU), and Swedish colleagues from Lund University (this project was funded by the NRF and Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education).    

She adds that a consortium of universities, including CPUT, was awarded a tender to evaluate TVET colleges – this work will continue until 2024. Furthermore, CPUT, UWC, SU, UCT, and Cape Higher Education Consortium are undertaking a dual education project together with the Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences in Germany.

Winberg is also a researcher on a joint UCT, UJ, and CPUT project on engineering education, which includes supporting a number of doctoral candidates in engineering education. She is also a participant on the SA/Irish exchange project in which South African and Irish colleagues are conducting research into work-integrated learning – this project is supported by the South African Technology Network.

She says the work done by the Chair, the doctoral and Master’s students, and the Professional Education Research Institute (PERI) at CPUT contributes to the University’s research profile, publication outputs, and research capacity development. “PERI also makes a contribution to practice, providing an evidence-base for practices in work-integrated learning – and ensuring that work-integrated learning maintains equity of esteem with academic subjects,” Winberg explains.

Research Uptake: Strategic Initiatives and Partnerships Manager, Hunadi Mokgalaka says the Research Chair initiative is one of the “strongest programmatic and practical intervention strategies” for breakthrough improvement in research at CPUT.  Mokgalaka says the University currently hosts 11 research chairs; four SARChI (these are funded by the Department of Science and Innovation and NRF), six CPUT Council-funded, and one SETA-funded.

She says the aim of the initiative is to drive the research agenda through masters and doctoral supervision, research outputs, and grant funding for research activities, partnerships, and conferences. “This is very exciting and good news for CPUT as we continuously strive to source funding for and to increase the number of research chairs within the university.”

Written by Aphiwe Boyce


Provides coverage for the Engineering and the Built Environment and Applied Sciences Faculties.