Johannesburg - The government will continue to promote excellence in research at universities, Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor said on Tuesday."We are short of our target for PhDs. South Africa produces 1200 PhD graduates a year, and we have set ourselves a target of 6000 a year by 2018," she said in a speech prepared for delivery.She was delivering the sixth annual Imam Abdullah Haron memorial lecture in Cape Town.Pandor said the country's science and technology sector was constrained by a shortage of scientists and technologists."This is a legacy of poor science and mathematics performance in our schools, but also poor investment in our university system."She said the government planned to boost successful interventions, such as the SA Research Chairs Initiative. She said talent, wherever it was, should be given the opportunity to flourish."In particular, this must focus on the black community, especially black women, post-graduates and the provision of financial and academic support," Pandor said.One measure to achieving the government's goals was to capitalise on the presence of 50 000 foreign university students, mainly from Africa.She said the students received an excellent education, with those from the Southern African Development Community countries being subsidised by the South African taxpayer."As the higher education hub of Africa, it would be appropriate to retain a quota of the eventual graduates that would go some way toward boosting the engineering and researcher stock," she said.