The CoJ is keen to engage with the universities, while universities are keen to engagement with the CoJ. However, they perceive each other to have different goals, which are not necessarily compatible. Whereas the CoJ representatives perceive the universities to focus more on research benefits, university academics blame the CoJ for implementing projects without obtaining sound research advice from academics. For example, the bicycle-lane project in CoJ: millions were spent on building bicycle-lanes in the CoJ, in particular between the city centre and the campuses of Wits and UJ, and these lanes are not used at all. Neither the students nor the commuters cycle.
It seems that the level of CoJ engagement at Wits has been well established over many years, also owing to Wits’ close proximity to the city centre. Even though UJ has a Community Engagement Manager, and a Strategic Relations Manager who liaises with the CoJ, engagement with the CoJ do seem to occur on an ad hoc basis.
Future steps should focus on determining the research and support needs of the CoJ, and align these with the skills at the universities to ensure a longer term relationship.
The CoJ already sponsors a number of Chairs at both Wits and UJ, such as:
- CoJ Chair of Economic Development at Wits
- UJ-CoJ Research and Innovation Chair: Green Economy
Maybe if more such chairs can be agreed, this could contribute to a longer-term mutually beneficial relationship between the CoJ and the universities.
SA-UK USDP 2 programme
Following the relationship that developed between the University of Glasgow and the University of Johannesburg (UJ) during the SUEUAA project, when the Call for proposals was received from the British Council, for a South Africa (SA) -United Kingdom (UK) collaboration for the University Staff Development Programme (USDP) 2, it was possible to approach the University of Glasgow to be the UK partner. The University of Glasgow, UJ and the University of Zululand was successful with their grant application for phase one, and jointly a proposal for a doctorate training centre for staff at Universities in South Africa has been developed and submitted in respect of phase 2.