PAPERS DISCUSSED AT DUT’S INSTITUTIONAL RESEARCH DAY
By: Tony Manyangadze
Delegates who attended this year’s Durban University of Technology’s Institutional Research Day were today challenged not to let institutional fences and differences in disciplines hinder research collaboration.
Professor Deresh Ramjugernath, who is the DST/NRF South African Chair for the Fluorine Process Engineering and Separation Technology, made a point that various programmes, disciplines and even institutions should not work in isolation but rather unite and find ways that best save the masses.
“Innovation doesn’t take place in a silo, it’s now time to develop multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary research,” he said.
Professor Ramjugernath is convinced that the secret to a country’s prosperity is directly linked to its research output and most importantly, innovation.
“If universities get this right, the nation will benefit, they are a microcosm of what takes place in the country,” said Professor Ramjugernath, who is also the Director of Thermodynamics Research Unit at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
His concern is the fact that institutions in developing countries are keeping their traditional views and strategies, shunning transformation and as a result most of these institutions and their countries are lagging behind and have some of the highest numbers of unemployment in the world.
According to Professor Ramjugernath, recent statistics indicate that 7,5 million South Africans are unemployed. More so, 50% of these unemployed are between the age groups of 18 to 25-years and 75% are below 35-years.
He also noted that at least 600 000 university graduates are unemployed. He was not shy to point this out blaming institutions and saying that they are the cause. His argument is that institutions, because of their traditional approach, are training workers and not entrepreneurs.
“Universities are now training students to be employees and not employers. We now have universities producing lots and lots of graduates that are unemployable,” he said.
The rest of the day was the implementation phase. It was characterised by students and lecturers from different faculties presenting their research topics in the spirit of innovation.