Western Cape Government and UWC Partner to Boost Regional Economics Research
At an official ceremony on Tuesday, Western Cape Minister of Economic Development, Alan Winde, and University of the Western Cape Rector, Professor Brian O'Connell, signed a groundbreaking new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
The event marked the start of a long-term partnership that will see up to ten UWC masters students per year receive bursary funding from the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT) for the thesis portion of their degree. In exchange, the students must agree to write on topics pertinent to the unique character of the economy and industrial sectors of the Province. DEDAT will give input into the proposed theses topics and provide guidance on draft material. Students will be required to submit quarterly progress reports.
Speaking at the launch, Minister Alan Winde said: "I am extremely pleased to partner with UWC on this win-win initiative. For some time, the Provincial Government has struggled to find specialist economics researchers. By pooling our respective strengths, we have devised a solution that benefits us by delivering cutting edge, cost-effective research that speaks directly to our economy, and also UWC students, who receive much-needed funding toward their studies. Through this partnership, we will create experts in our competitive sectors, such as oil and gas, tourism, boatbuilding and green energy, who, upon graduation, will no doubt be highly sought by the Western Cape Government and the private sector."
UWC Rector, Professor Brian O' Connell, was equally delighted by the partnership: "The essence of life in nature is a double helix of DNA. So too, is partnership the essence of life in civil society. This partnership will benefit both parties and will benefit South Africa. For a long time now, we have proceeded with policy without a deep understanding of all the variables at play. This partnership signals the beginning of a process through which sense can be made of our challenges on the basis of evidence. We are delighted about this arrangement."
In addition to bursary funding, the selected students will be given the opportunity to gain exposure to the work place through a five-week internship within DEDAT during their mid-term vacation. This will radically increase their employability.
Minister Winde concluded: "This event signals a new era for economics research in the Province. The theses produced as a result of this MOU will be used by Cabinet in the formation of new policies. In this way, the selected students will influence the path of our Province in a very direct way. My special thanks go to the head of UWC's Economics Department, Professor Lieb Loots, and to the officials from DEDAT who had the imagination and drive to broker this deal."
Other areas of cooperation outlined in the MOU include:
- Collaboration between the DEDAT and UWC on industrial policy.
- Joint development of a short course on Industrial Policy.
- Joint seminars and workshops at which leading industry experts will present on relevant topics.
- Sharing of economic research and databases.