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Newton Fund backing ESRC-NRF collaborative research on Higher Education in South Africa

17 November 2016

The ESRC and National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa are pleased to announce five new collaborative research projects on higher education in South Africa or wider Africa.

The collaborative projects between UK and South African researchers will seek to answer fundamental questions about how higher education is organised and funded and what it is for in relation to the individual and society given the particular challenges facing the South African/wider Africa higher education context.

Speaking on behalf of the National Research Foundation, Dr Andrew Kaniki, Executive Director, Knowledge Fields Development (KFD), said: "the NRF is delighted to once again partner with the ESRC in jointly supporting researchers in South Africa and the UK to address the pertinent issues faced by our institutions, particularly at the stage when South African higher education sector tackles issue relating to the relevance of curricula, access to higher education, financing of higher education and the same time the #FeesMustFall campaign. The collaboration between South African and UK experts should certainly provide knowledge that will enhance policy in higher education and in addition, the valuable new knowledge in South African, and African higher education."   

Speaking on behalf of the ESRC, Joy Todd, Strategic Lead for Education research said: "this collaboration further strengthens our partnership with the NRF in South Africa and develops our portfolio of research on Higher Education. These projects will address live issues facing South Africa and we anticipate them impacting on policy and practice both at a policy level and within higher education institutions." 

Part of the Newton Fund, the Higher Education in South Africa collaborative call has awarded just over £2.25 million of ESRC funding, in addition to 11.3 million RAND (equivalent to approximately £670,000) from NRF, to the following projects:

Facilitating equitable access and quality education for development: South African International Distance Education
UK principal investigator - Dr Parvati Raghuram, Open University
South African principal investigator - Dr Ashley Gunter, University of South Africa
Unbundling education: Mapping the changing nature of Higher Education in South Africa
UK principal investigator - Professor Neil Morris, University of Leeds
South African principal investigator - Professor Laura Czerniewicz, University of Cape Town
Negotiating the transition from rurality to higher education in Southern Africa
UK principal investigator - Dr Susan Timmis, University of Bristol
South African principal investigator - Professor Brenda Leibowitz, University of Johannesburg
The appropriateness, usefulness and impact of the current urban planning curriculum in South African Higher Education
UK principal investigator - Dr Lauren Andres, University of Birmingham,
South African principal investigator - Dr Ruth Massey, University of the Free State
Higher Education, Inequality and the Public Good in four African countries: South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana
UK principal investigator - Professor Elaine Unterhalter, University College London
South African principal investigator - Professor Stephanie Allais, University of the Witwatersrand.


The Newton Fund builds scientific and innovation partnerships with 16 partner countries to support their economic development and social welfare, and to develop their research and innovation capacity for long-term sustainable growth. It has a total UK Government investment of £735 million up until 2021, with matched resources from the partner countries. The Newton Fund is managed by the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and delivered through 15 UK Delivery Partners, which include the Research Councils, the UK National Academies, the British Council, Innovate UK and the Met Office.