Higher Education

, Volume 77, Issue 2, pp 283–299 | Cite as

The hurdles to fostering research in Tanzanian universities

  • Daniel Sidney FussyEmail author


Universities across the world are normally called upon to be innovative and generate relevant knowledge to address context-related issues afflicting society. This central role of universities notwithstanding, the involvement in research by African universities and academics, has been minimal when compared with other universities and academics in other parts of the world. This raises the question of what is exactly happening in the region’s universities regarding the development of research. As such, this study establishes the hurdles of developing university research in Tanzania, which directly falls within the wider expectations of developing a research culture in developing countries. The study involved higher education policy makers, senior university leaders and academic staff members who were sourced from four universities and two non-university institutions which oversee the Tanzania’s higher education sector. Based on interviews and document analyses, the study has established various hurdles, ranging from cultural, political and structural to institutional. The study situates the hurdles and associated debilitating effects in the broader African and developing world context that share similar social, educational, political and economic characteristics to that of Tanzania. Additionally, the study adds to the existing body of knowledge on university research development in developing countries’ higher education systems.


Research culture University research Knowledge valorisation Triple helix Higher education policy Teaching overload 


  1. Abugre, J. B. (2017). Institutional governance and management systems in sub-Saharan Africa higher education: developments and challenges in a Ghanaian research university. Higher Education.
  2. Bangi, Y., & Sahay, A. (2014). Efficiency assessment of the Tanzanian universities. Journal of Education and Practice, 5(14), 130–143.Google Scholar
  3. Bloom, D. E., Canning, D., Chan, K., & Luca, D. L. (2014). Higher education and economic growth in Africa. International Journal of African Higher Education, 1(1), 23–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3, 77–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Brock-Utne, B. (2003). Formulating higher education policies in Africa: the pressure from external forces and the neo-liberal agenda. Journal of Higher Education in Africa, 1(1), 24–56.Google Scholar
  6. Cloete, N., Bunting, I., & Maassen, P. (2015). Research universities in Africa: an empirical overview of eight flagship universities. In N. Cloete, P. Maassen, & T. Bailey (Eds.), Knowledge production and contradictory functions in African higher education (pp. 18–31). Cape Town: African Minds.Google Scholar
  7. Cohen, L., Manion, L., & Morrison, K. (2007). Research methods in education (6th ed.). London: Routledge Falmer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Crespo, M., & Bertrand, D. (2013). Faculty workload in a research-intensive university: a case study. Montreal: CIRANO.Google Scholar
  9. Edgar, F., & Geare, A. (2013). Factors influencing university research performance. Studies in Higher Education, 38(5), 774–792.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Emiru, Z. (2012). An investigation into the research culture of Addis Ababa University: the case of teaching English as a foreign language programme. Unpublished PhD thesis. Addis Ababa University.Google Scholar
  11. Etzkowitz, H., & Leydesdorff, L. (2000). The dynamics of innovation: from national systems and “mode 2” to a triple helix of university–industry–government relations. Research Policy, 20, 109–123.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Evans, L. (2007). Developing research cultures and researchers in higher education: the role of leadership. Paper presented at the annual conference of the Society for Research into Higher Education (SRHE). Accessed 3 June 2014
  13. Hladchenko, M., de Boer, H. F., & Westerheijden, D. F. (2016). Establishing research universities in Ukrainian higher education: the incomplete journey of a structural reform. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 38(2), 111–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kvale, S., & Brinkmann, S. (2009). Interviews: learning from the craft of qualitative research interviewing (2nd ed.). Los Angeles: Sage.Google Scholar
  15. Leathwood, C., & Read, B. (2013). Research policy and academic performativity: compliance, contestation and complicity. Studies in Higher Education, 38(8), 1162–1174.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Musiige, G., & Maassen, P. (2015). Faculty perceptions of the factors that influence research productivity at Makerere University. In N. Cloete, P. Maassen, & T. Bailey (Eds.), Knowledge production and contradictory functions in African higher education (pp. 109–127). Cape Town: African Minds.Google Scholar
  17. Nchinda, T. C. (2002). Research capacity strengthening in the south. Social Science and Medicine, 54(11), 1699–1711.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Nguyen, T. L. H. (2013). The challenges of developing research resources for leading Vietnamese universities. Higher Education Management and Policy, 24(2), 115–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Nguyen, T. L. H., & Meek, V. L. (2016). Key problems in organizing and structuring university research in Vietnam: the lack of an effective research ‘behaviour formalization’ system. Minerva, 54, 45–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Olsson, Å., & Cooke, N. (2013). The evolving path for strengthening research and innovation policy for development. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  21. Pinheiro, R., & Pillay, P. (2016). Higher education and economic development in the OECD: policy lessons for other countries and regions. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 38(2), 150–166.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Rungfamai, K. (2017). Research-university governance in Thailand: The case of Chulalongkorn university. Higher Education, 74, 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Sam, C., & Dahles, H. (2017). Stakeholder involvement in the higher education sector in Cambodia. Studies in Higher Education, 42(9), 1764–1784.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Sawyerr, A. (2004). African universities and the challenge of research capacity development. Journal of Higher Education in Africa, 2(1), 211–240.Google Scholar
  25. Schmidt, E. K., & Graversen, E. K. (2017). Persistent factors facilitating excellence in research environments. Higher Education.
  26. Shin, J. C., & Lee, S. J. (2015). Evolution of research universities as a national research system in Korea: accomplishments and challenges. Higher Education, 70, 187–202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Tanzania Commission for Universities (TCU). (2014). Quality assurance, general guidelines and minimum standards for provision of university education in Tanzania. Dar es Salaam: TCU.Google Scholar
  28. UNESCO. (2015). UNESCO science report: towards 2030. Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar
  29. United Republic of Tanzania (URT). (2000). The Tanzania’s development vision 2025. Dar es Salaam: Ministry of Education and Vocational Training.Google Scholar
  30. United Republic of Tanzania (URT). (2010). The national research and development policy. Dar es Salaam: Ministry of Communication, Science and Technology.Google Scholar
  31. United Republic of Tanzania (URT). (2014). Sera ya elimu na mafunzo [education and training policy]. Dar es Salaam: Ministry of Education.Google Scholar
  32. University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM). (2014). Vision (p. 2061). Dar es Salaam: UDSM.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mkwawa University College of Education (A Constituent College of the University of Dar es Salaam)IringaTanzania

Personalised recommendations