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Research Africa helps University of Botswana win funding

The University of Botswana (UB) used a funding opportunity on Research Africa to successfully join DocLinks, an international project to improve PhD research partnerships.

“This is not the first time we have used Research Africa so successfully, and it won’t be the last. We are delighted,” said José Jackson-Malete, the UB deputy director of research and development.

UB will receive Euros 58,094 (US$ 79,000) as an operational grant, according to Jackson-Malete, who is the leader of the UB contribution to the project. The money should be deposited this week.

The DocLinks project is funded by the European Commission (EC) through their Erasmus Mundus programme, which promotes international academic partnerships.

DocLinks, which will run for two years, will identify specific barriers hampering communication between groups of doctoral candidates and early career researchers in Europe and Africa.

“The grant will be used to conduct a needs assessment of current networking amongst European and African doctoral students. We start as early as October” she told Research Africa.

“The project will bring together resources such as PhD and post-doctoral fellowships and other research opportunities and make them available to doctoral students in Africa and Europe using an online tool,” said Jackson-Malete.

UB will organise two joint Africa–Europe doctoral education schools, for about 60 students, during university breaks in July 2012 and 2013.

“The schools will provide face-to-face contact between African and European doctoral students for intensive discussions on higher (and doctoral) education in Europe and Africa,” explained Jackson-Malete.

“About 60 doctoral students from Africa and Europe will participate in the Africa-EU doctoral schools over the 2 years,” she added.

The Research Africa funding opportunities were important for UB, which is intensifying its research base, she said. It will help the university achieve its goal of increased international collaboration.

“Our strategy places great emphasis on increasing both the proportion and absolute number of graduate students,” said Jackson-Malete.

On 14 October, the UB team will meet with project leader John Kirkland, deputy secretary-general of the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) on 14 October to review the plans for the project.

The project is led by the London-based ACU through its programmes development officer, Evelina Vardanyan.

The total project funding of Euros 238,017 (US$324,808) is shared by seven partners.

The only other African partner in the DocLinks project is the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), which has its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.

Other partners: the European Council of Doctoral Candidates and Junior Researchers, and the French-speaking University Agency, both in Belgium; Irish-African Partnership for Research Capacity Building, in Ireland; and the University of Jyväskylä, in Finland.