Research Strategy

UFS strip research

In the past five years, the UFS has done well in terms of its contribution to local, regional, and global knowledge, particularly in increasing research impact and uptake. The quality of UFS research output is improving, as evidenced by increased research output in international journals. Research productivity has improved in terms of both the number of publications and per capita research output (including postgraduates). The number of leading researchers at the UFS is increasing, and the identified research areas of strength and distinctiveness are developing through an increase in focused resource allocation. The research endeavour supports the university's financial sustainability, which is evidenced by an increase in contract research.

Our plans for the next 12 years are outlined in Vision 130, which reflects our ambition to be a university with a consistent outward focus, and to be profound in what we deliver – building on past achievements, while constantly transforming ourselves to stay relevant within the dynamic and ever-changing international higher education sphere.

As a university we will build on the established foundations of academic excellence, quality, and impact; maximum societal impact with sustainable relationships; and a diverse, inclusive, and equitable group of researchers.

We want to be acknowledged as a university that impactfully supports societal development, with an epistemic diversity of ideas, perspectives, and methodological approaches.

To achieve the first strategic goal (UFS Strategic Plan 2023-2028), which is to improve our academic excellence, reputation, and impact, we will:

1. Place increased emphasis on research that advances societal and knowledge impact

Vision 130 shifts the emphasis to research impact, embracing both knowledge and societal impact. In this context, Vision 130 identifies the need for a greater focus on collaborative research, research that is able to attract large-scale funding, and niche areas where the university is seen as a national and global leader. For research to be sustainable, research teams need to attract funding on a scale that covers both the research costs and its contribution to the university’s overheads. By 2028, we aspire to increase the budget allocated to the research endeavour, make significant contributions to the Sustainable Development Goals, and increase the number of highly productive, internationally competitive research groups.

2. Ensure the quantity, quality, and diversity of academic staff with renowned global reputation

Research excellence rests on the quality of the researchers, the quality of the research teams, and above all, the quality of the leadership of those teams. In line with Vision 130, we will recruit and retain internationally recognised academics in fields relevant to the UFS' local, national, and international context. Equally, we will act on the need to recruit and retain promising postdoctoral scholars with established academic records. We will furthermore work to increase the proportion of academic staff who have doctoral qualifications and are research active.

Moreover, we are committed to significantly increasing the number of research chairs and establishing internationally benchmarked centres of research excellence. All this requires principal researchers to be able to lead, coordinate, and motivate groups of productive scientists. These principal researchers will need to be recognised internationally as leaders in their field. By 2028, we aspire to increase the number of principal research leaders in specific fields, leading researchers and scholars, as well as collaborations with targeted international institutions. At the same time, we will increase the proportion of academics who are research active.

Access our Strategic Plan 2023-2028 here and also read about the university’s goals pertaining to the role of research in

  • promoting an environment of agility, flexibility, and responsiveness based on trust and accountability;
  • advancing a transformational institutional culture that demonstrates the values of the UFS; and
  • promoting stewardship and prioritisation of institutional resources for strategic intent.

Source: Vision 130 information, UFS Strategy 2023-2028

Contact me

Dr Glen Taylor
Senior Director: Research Development
T: +27 51 401 9778

Johannes Brill Building, First Floor, Bloemfontein Campus

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