SA needs PhDs urgently, says Pandor

2014-07-22 13:20
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Naledi Pandor. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24, file)

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Cape Town - South Africa is producing too few doctoral graduates, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor said on Tuesday.

Opening debate in Parliament on her department's R6.47bn budget, she told MPs the country currently turned out just over 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 R5.8bn 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 GDP on research and development, compared to a global average of 1.77%.

Pandor said that of this year's R6.47bn science and technology budget, R3.5bn was allocated to research and development. Of the latter amount, R1.7bn 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 post-graduate 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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