The Durban University of Technology (DUT) hosted three pre-conference workshops on Monday, 12 November at DUT’s Hotel School Conference Centre, to signal the beginning of the 25th Southern African Association for Institutional Research (SAAIR) Conference.
The three pre-conference workshops were attended by distinguished academics and delved into various topics pertaining to institutional research. The workshops aimed to create robust engagements, prior to the conference which begins on 13 November and end on Thursday, 15 November at Elangeni Hotel in Durban.
Speaking on the topic: “The role of institutional researchers and planners in decision making”, the Principal Advisor Planning and Research at RMIT University in Australia, Mr Angel Calderon, described institutional research as a set of functions, activities and roles that practitioners perform in order to assist decision makers to make well-versed and evidence-based decisions.
“The nature of institutional research is that it is about the institution and for the institution, the system and the jurisdictions in which it operates,” said Mr Calderon.
The Director: Institutional Planning at DUT and SAAIR 2018 Conference Chair, Nicky Muller said the institutional hierarchy is often the biggest challenge facing institutional researchers when providing data.
“I say this because I think it differs from institution to institution and very often it is related to the reporting line. If you report to the Vice-Chancellor, well that is fantastic. If you are reporting to the DVC or through somebody else to a DVC, you are further and further away from the place where you can actually make some kind of impact in terms of helping in providing evidence that informs in decision making,” said Muller.
Meanwhile, Siyaphumelela Data Coach, Dr Jan Lyddon facilitated a workshop which focused on “Institutional research as internal disrupters”. She urged institutional researchers to have the courage to also present unpleasant news, discovered during their data gathering process to decision-makers.
“There are going to be many times where you will divulge some ugly news, such as a high number of college dropout or decrease in student graduation and that won’t be pleasant. You need to understand that people will receive such news differently. Present your data accordingly in such instances, do not just drop the bomb,” said Dr Lyddon.
Pictured: Delegates in discussion during the pre-conference workshop of the 25th Southern African Association for Institutional Research (SAAIR) Conference.