The Doctorate in South Africa: Policies, Discourses and Statistics

The Doctorate in South Africa: Policies, Discourses and Statistics

Worldwide, in Africa and in South Africa, the importance of the doctorate has increased disproportionally in relation to its contribution to the overall graduate output over the last decade. This heightened attention has not been predominantly concerned with the traditional role of the PhD, namely the provision of a future supply of academics. Rather, it has focused on the increasingly important role that higher education – particularly high-level skills – is perceived to play in the knowledge economy.

In South Africa, the National Development Plan (2012) has prioritised an increase in doctoral output from 1 400 per year to 6 000 by 2030. And at the Africa Convening on the Doctorate in October 2013, sponsored by the National Research Foundation (NRF) and Carnegie Corporation, there was broad agreement that Africa needs tens of thousands more PhDs in order to renew an ageing professoriate, staff the rapidly expanding higher education field, boost research, and generate the high-level skills growing economies need.

CHET (Centre for Higher Education Transformation) and CREST (Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology), with support from the Ford Foundation and Carnegie Corporation, launched a project called "The Successful Cultivation of Social Science and Humanities Doctoral Scholarship in South Africa" in 2010. This project, along with another project on knowledge production in South African higher education, will form the basis for a book on the subject. The feedback from participants who attended the Doctorate in South Africa seminar, plus the updated statistics for 2012, will be included in the final version of the book which will be submitted for publication during the latter part of 2014.


Introduction to the Seminar by Cheryl de la Rey
Discussant 1: Dr Saleem Badat
Discussant 2: John Butler-Adam
Discussant 3: Prof. Teboho Moja
Discussant 4: Dr Patricio Langa
Closing comments by Cheryl de la Rey