About The University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

The University of KwaZulu-Natal was formed on 1 January 2004 as a result of a merger between the former Universities of DurbanWestville and Natal. The new institution brings together the academic expertise and research capacity of two major regional universities and is at the forefront of higher educational transformation in South Africa. 

The University is home to the region’s leading academics and has an impressive number of internationally acclaimed scientists and researchers among its staff, as rated by the National Research Foundation. The full spectrum of research is supported, from curiosity-driven to application-based and participatory action research with community partners. Research is conducted by, and in association with, members of the academic staff, associated research units, industry, business, government, local communities and international institutions and agencies. Introduction UKZN’s vision is to be the ‘Premier University of African Scholarship’. 

It strives to reflect the society in which it is situated, not only in terms of race, gender and class, but in how it structures its values and priorities and how it responds, through its research, to social needs. KwaZuluNatal provides fertile soil for researchers and the University’s mission commits the institution to critical engagement with its society and encourages practical research that will lead to socio-economic upliftment of communities. 

This outcomes-driven approach has led to the establishment of inter-disciplinary ‘centres of excellence’ devoted to particular projects and often involving collaboration with institutions from around the world. Research and postgraduate training programmes are directed in the following research focus areas, which have been identified on the basis of institutional proven strengths and strategic objectives: Agriculture and Food Security; Biotechnology; Energy and Technology for Sustainable Development; Gender, Race and Identity; HIV/Aids, TB and Health promotion; Indigenous African Knowledge Systems; Maritime Studies; Social Development and Economic Studies; Water Environment and Biodiversity. The University has formal and informal ties, as well as having established exchange programmes with more than 260 leading universities around the world. At present, 20% of the total student registrations are in postgraduate studies. 

The Research Office, headed by the Deputy ViceChancellor Research, is responsible for the management and nurturing of knowledge production and dissemination, through partnerships, and places strong emphasis on collaborative research. The Division also assists staff and postgraduate students with grant applications, contracts, intellectual property rights and related administrative matters, as both a return as well as a return capacity development. Senior academics take pride in the mentorship provided to graduate students, encouraging them to develop their skills in critical appraisal and independent thought. The University provides a vibrant environment for basic and applied research, and offering internationally recognised postgraduate research degrees in all disciplines. 

Research innovation is a cornerstone of the new University and as an institution of higher learning, research excellence is recognised and supported as part of its essential identity. The University is committed to growing its existing research capacity further and leading the bid to bring South African and African scholarship to the attention of the international community. 

At the same time, we recognise that excellence in research and knowledge production should lead to practical interventions in national development strategies, and should be directed to the upliftment of poor and under-developed communities. Postgraduate students at the University have the opportunity to contribute towards these interventions. 

The University’s strategic priorities are informed by both national and international needs and opportunities and provide considerable scope for cutting-edge research. “Research innovation is the cornerstone of the University and as an institute of higher learning, research excellence is recognised and supported as part of its essential identity.”

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