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‘Gap’ between researchers and managers at African universities

Image: Andrew Silver for Research Professional News

Inorms 2023: Some faculty worried research managers will take their jobs, conference hears

There is a “gap” between researchers and research managers and administrators in parts of Africa, the annual meeting of the International Network of Research Management Societies has heard.

Nana Akufo (pictured third from right), assistant general secretary of the West African Research and Innovation Management Association, told attendees at the Inorms meeting in Durban, South Africa, on 31 May that in her experience some faculty members have appeared resistant to assistance from RMAs.

“There is this gap between the faculty members and the research offices,” said Akuffo, who is also a research development officer at the University of Ghana. Some faculty believe RMAs are “coming to take our job” instead of help out, she said.

Nevertheless, she said she still advises institutions to hire full-time RMAs. Without institutional support there would be “no way” to win highly competitive international funding, she said.

Akuffo has received funding from the US National Institutes of Health to develop research administration capacity in Africa, including through training. Having specialised, full-time RMAs in place at institutions could help with long-term training, advice and policy development, she said.

One reason assistance could be needed is that faculty might not understand grant regulations, she explained. “Sometimes you see a full-time professor with 15 years’ experience coming in that has identified this funding opportunity, which is for early career researchers,” she said. “He doesn’t know the rules.”

Research Professional News is media partner for the Inorms 2023 conference in Durban. Read all of the coverage here.