RESEARCH COLLABORATION IN PUBLICLY FUNDED UNIVERSITIES: EXPLORING THE OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES FOR COUNTRIES IN THE GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL (CASE STUDY OF SQU-UAEU RESEARCH FUNDING SCHEME)

  • Saif Al Sinani

Student thesis: Phd

Abstract

Collaborations between academic researchers and institutions provide opportunities to utilise available resources, improve infrastructure, enhance research quality and productivity, solve worldwide and regional research problems and strengthen academic networks. Given the benefits of research collaboration and the limited amount of collaborative research activities in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, the aim of this study is to explore the opportunities and challenges of collaborative research activities between the publicly funded universities (PFUs) in the GCC countries. To date much of the research in this area has been western-centric and there is the need to expand the understanding of the subject to other contexts, including the GCC. This study adopted the qualitative research paradigm by using the SQU-UAEU funding scheme established between Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) in Oman and the United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) in United Arab Emirates (UAE) as a case study to explore the phenomenon. In all, thirty one respondents (23 Principle Investigators and 8 Decision Makers) were interviewed. The case study was supported by secondary data extracted from relevant bodies, published data in international databases (i.e. SciVal software & Scopus), as well as the final reports of the joint funded projects. In regard to academic researchers’ motives, an analysis of the findings of the interviews uncovered fourteen motives behind their participation, in which they are grouped into four main categories: getting access to economic resources, getting access to scientific and technical human capital, enhancing quality, productivity, and efficiency and social related motives. The findings of this study reveals that research collaborations has improved research outcomes in the region by enhancing research productivity and quality of research produced, improved the utilisation of existing resources, develop management skills as well as improved the culture of collaboration in the GCC region. These notwithstanding, the findings also unearthed twenty main hurdles affecting joint research projects funded by the SQU-UAEU funding scheme. These hurdles were grouped into four categories based on their relationships: personal related factors, institutional related factors, external stakeholders’ support related factors, and national level related factors. Moreover, the findings also indicated that opportunities are ripe to further develop regional collaborative activities between PFUs in the region. The research institutions and PFUs in the region can further complement each other by providing different research facilities, economic resources and human and technical research capital to achieve this objective. Additionally, there has been substantial regional investment in establishing higher education (HE) research institutions and centres, as well as the development of human resources and the allocation of various national levels of funding for research and development activities. These have provided strong incentives to develop and enhance collaborative research activities between the regional research institutions. To further improve regional research productivity, quality and maximise the utilisation of these available resources, the study recommends that policy makers in the region should strive to remove financial and administrative hurdles by making HE institutions more autonomous and also develop strategies and policies to enhance regional research collaboration. These could include establishing a regional body to foster research collaboration through funding programmes, joint research grants, centres of excellence, graduate scholarships, and other incentive systems, as well as regional scientific events to promote research. GCC countries also need to develop regional research priorities and improve both institutional and national level research culture.
Date of Award31 Dec 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorMohammad Farhad Hossain (Supervisor) & Aminu Mamman (Supervisor)

Keywords

  • UAE
  • Public Funded Universities
  • Oman
  • Academic collaboration
  • GCC countries
  • Academic research

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