Exploring the Link between Higher Education Research and Policy in Ethiopia: Contributions of Universities
Umer, Usman Ahmed (2020)
Umer, Usman Ahmed
Master's Degree Programme in Research and Innovation in Higher Education
Johtamisen ja talouden tiedekunta - Faculty of Management and Business
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Modern higher education (HE) and Higher education research (HER) in Ethiopia is a recent phenomenon, which only started in 1950 with the establishment of the then Addis Ababa University. The sector only started to expand in the 1990s in which the governments started to allocate more funds for the massive expansion. There are also efforts made to guide and prioritize research activities according to the development needs of the country, which are done through devising a number of policies that dictate the processes of organizing and directing research activities in public HEIs. However, there are no enough clear guidelines about how to use those research findings in policy development process to complete the loop of knowledge production to knowledge application. Hence, this research aimed at investigating the application of HER in policy-making by examining the link between the two and discussing the contribution of the former to the latter in Ethiopia, using the RAPID framework. Qualitative case study was employed and six experts and officials from MoE, ESC and the case university were interviewed and nine policy and program level documents were reviewed. Accordingly, absence of incentives, burden from other activities and lack of commitments are problems facing academic staff. Regardless of many efforts to improve it, HER in Ethiopia still suffer from shortage of finance, lack of data base for research work and lack of meaningful link to industry. Descriptive and survey research designs are used repetitively, English language problem and low number of PhD holders are some problems too. The state controls the total policy-making sphere as well as the research function of HEIs using the need to link it to the country’s development needs and priorities as justifications. The adoption of foreign policies, the influence of international organizations and lack of adequate stakeholders’ participations are also there. There is a beginning to link research to industry as a means of consuming research outputs while completely neglecting of up-taking research results in policy-making. Research activities are fragmented, absence of organizing body responsible for making knowledge usable for policymakers, lack of system of evaluation for research, very routine and tiresome financial procedure and duplications of research efforts. Building the capacity of the country’s scholars to produce sound knowledge through research, having a knowledge broker organization that link research and policy making efforts by using every possible means of disseminations and communications will help in solving some of the above mentioned problems.