SA producing too few PhDs – Naledi Pandor

2014-07-22 13:03

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South Africa is producing too few doctoral graduates, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor has said.

Opening debate in Parliament on her department’s R6.47 billion budget, she told MPs the country currently turned out just more than 1 800 PhDs a year.

“The National Development Plan sets a target of 100 000 PhDs by 2030, to improve research and innovation capacity. In order to reach this target we need to train 6 000 PhDs per annum.

“We now produce just over 1 800 PhDs per year. To train 6 000 a year will cost an additional R5.8 billion a year,” Pandor said.

Doctoral level research is seen as essential for developing the technological innovations needed to attract investment and grow the economy.

South Africa spends less than 1% of its gross domestic product on research and development, compared with a global average of 1.77%.

Pandor said of this year’s R6.47 billion science and technology budget, R3.5 billion was allocated to research and development. Of the latter amount, R1.7 billion was earmarked for research grants and bursaries.

On the training of doctoral graduates, she said the country lacked research-supervision capacity, and there were too few students.

“We need to support researchers who are capable of supervising postgraduate students, and to create appropriate incentives for students to remain in the system up to doctoral level.”

She said the global Square Kilometre Array project had awarded grants to many students. “The success rate of the programme has been very high, with 36 doctoral degrees, 95 master’s degrees, 59 honours degrees, 58 BSc and BEng degrees, and 16 national diplomas awarded.”

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