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National University of Rwanda research culture growing

The National University of Rwanda (NUR) joined Research Africa last month as part of a concerted push to sharpen their competitive edge when it comes to winning grants.

“NUR has recently subscribed to the database managed by Research Africa, which offers a unique opportunity to access numerous available grants for research,” said Verdiana Grace Masanja, the university’s director of research.

She said that researchers were actively competing for funding opportunities in order to diversify funding sources.

“For that reason, Research Africa has been invited to train NUR staff, executives and research managers and administrators to enable NUR researchers to exploit to the maximum the Research Africa database,” Masanja said from the NUR campus in Butare.

Research Africa manager Shaun Stuart and consultant Paul Dantu will visit NUR this week, from 26 to 28 October, for the first time. They will conduct training for 120 researchers on how to use the Research Africa funding database effectively and meet research managers and administrators.

“It is hoped that with the effective use of the Research Africa database, NUR staff and its units will be able to bid competitively and increase their visibility, enough to attract collaboration and join consortia that are likely to succeed when bidding for grants,” Masanja explained.

More than half the NUR staff (58.6 percent) participated in research activities last year, which compares well with the low level (11.3 percent) of staff involved in research in 2006, Masanja said.

“This has led to the improvement in research environment at NUR gaining momentum over the years,” said Masanja, who is also the vice-president of the eastern region of the Africa Mathematical Union (AMU).

Although overall funding for research increased six-fold from 2006 to 2010, “there has been an increased demand for more research funds,” she said.

“The demand for research has become visible,” said Masanja.

At present, over 90 percent of research grants at NUR, the oldest and largest university in Rwanda, come from the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida).