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30 Jan 2015

Loughborough University partners with IDS on £2million project in Sub-Saharan Africa

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The African Universities’ Research Approaches programme (AURA), funded by UK Aid and led by the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) in partnership with the Information Training and Outreach Centre for Africa (ITOCA) and Dr Mark Hepworth at the Centre for Information Management (CIM), Loughborough University, will work with up to nine universities in Sub-Saharan Africa to enrich the research and teaching practices of academics working in health, agriculture and the environment.

AURA’s overarching aim is to address the continent-wide goals of supporting universities to transform Africa through investments in people-centred innovations that will bring about economic prosperity and democratic and responsive governance.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to work with African partners to develop an approach whereby academics’ capacity to undertake research is strengthened and at the same time students are enabled to become more effective critical thinkers, independent learners and future researchers,” explained Mark.

“This is something both universities and employers aspire to. In Africa, the challenge is particularly demanding due to pressures relating to infrastructure and staffing. We want to collaboratively develop a strategy that can meet these challenges and can be applied elsewhere. My aspiration is to see these universities take a lead, globally, both in cutting-edge research and their ability to engage students in independent learning and develop research capacity.”

Mark has spent the last 15 years researching people’s ability to use and handle information, and his research with the IDS directly contributed to the AURA programme. In particular, this included research with the University of Botswana, Mzuzu University in Malawi and the University of Zambia on academic staffs’ aspirations and the challenges associated with fostering critical thinking independent learners.

The AURA programme is an exciting opportunity for CIM and Loughborough University as a whole to work with international partners, share knowledge and expertise and contribute to a sustainable future.

Notes for editors

Article reference number: January News

  • AURA is funded by UK AID and will be implemented over the next three-and-a-half years

  • For more information about the project, see the programme web page or contact the AURA Project Manager, Siobhan Duvigneau (s.duvigneau@ids.ac.uk)

  • For more information about Mark’s research, visit the CIM microsite
  • Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

    It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, putting it among the best universities in the world, and was named Sports University of the Year 2013-14 by The Times and Sunday Times. Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and has been voted England's Best Student Experience for six years running in the Times Higher Education league. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

    In 2015 the University will open an additional academic campus in London’s new innovation quarter. Loughborough University in London, based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, will offer postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities.