Association of Commonwealth Universities Launches Research Toolkit to Promote Fairer Collaborations in Higher Education

The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) has recently unveiled its Equitable Research Partnerships Toolkit, a comprehensive resource designed to help promote more equitable research collaborations in higher education. ACU said that the toolkit was carefully curated to address the unique needs and challenges of higher education, providing practical resources for universities to promote equity in their research relationships.

Beate Knight, Head of Programmes at ACU, emphasised the importance of equitable partnerships between universities in their global network of over 500 members, as it is at the heart of their mission to create a more equal society. The ACU believes that universities should take the lead in action and research to address the entrenched inequalities prevalent in society.

With increased collaboration between universities from high-income and low- and middle-income countries, the need for equitable research partnerships has become more urgent in higher education. The toolkit aims to stimulate critical thinking and dialogue on the meaning of equity in research collaborations, providing resources that aid research professionals to plan, implement, disseminate and sustain equitable research partnerships.

The Equitable Research Partnerships Toolkit is divided into five sections: building understanding and awareness, stakeholder identification and analysis, envisioning achieving and assessing desired partnership impact, research study design and implementation, and checklists. The toolkit offers a practical and comprehensive approach to address the growing concerns over the lack of equity and fairness in research collaborations.

Therina Theron, Senior Director of Research and Innovation at Stellenbosch University and co-chair of the ACU Supporting Research Community Steering Committee, highlighted that the global conversation on the inequity and unfairness in research partnerships has gained significant traction in recent years, with increasing calls to action to implement changes in practice. She added that equitable partnerships are essential for fair and just scientific research that benefits populations globally.

At the launch of the toolkit in a webinar, Theron expressed her optimism that the practical tool would enable researchers and stakeholders to move from merely "talking the talk" to "walking the walk" when it comes to promoting collaborations that promote equality and fairness. She emphasised that the toolkit would help raise awareness of the damage done to scientific integrity through inequitable research partnerships, offer practical interventions, and allow for reflection to ensure equity.

The Equitable Research Partnerships Toolkit provides a critical resource for universities worldwide to address the issues of fairness and equity in research partnerships. With its carefully curated selection of resources, it is hoped that universities will utilise this toolkit to foster more equitable partnerships across the Commonwealth and build a more equal society for all.

Photo courtesy / ACU web

Article by Jed Mwangi

The toolkit: