Generating Talent: Transforming support for the research landscape in South Africa

Researchers examining petri dish

The importance of investing in early career academics was in the spotlight today, as the ACU and Universities South Africa (USAf) launched a joint report at South Africa's first National Higher Education Conference.

Centering on the need to provide greater support for early career academics at South African universities, the report recommends a series of ways in which universities can invest in the next generation of researchers, including:

  • strengthening doctoral supervision
  • greater involvement of university human resources professionals
  • increasing the number of split-site PhDs

With soaring enrolment leaving many early career academics struggling with heavy teaching and academic workloads, ensuring they are still able to develop and thrive as researchers and academics remains a crucial issue for many universities.

Dr Joanna Newman, ACU Chief Executive and Secretary General, said: 'Early career academics are the researchers, teachers, and leaders of the future – supporting them is critical to ensuring the long-term vitality of teaching and research and to national social and economic development.

'This has been a priority for the ACU for more than a decade and I'm proud to launch this new report in partnership with USAf, which showcases how we can work together to transform the research landscape in South Africa and beyond and nurture the next generation of researchers'.

'Generating talent: Transforming support for the research landscape in South Africa' was launched at the National Higher Education Conference on Thursday 3 October 2019. Dr Joanna Newman, ACU Chief Executive and Secretary General chaired of panel of leading academics, including:

  • Professor Stephanie Burton, Vice-Principal: Research and Postgraduate Education, University of Pretoria
  • Dr Aldo Stroebel, Executive Director: Strategic Partnerships, NRF
  • Mandisa Cakwe, Director: University Capacity Development, University Education Branch, Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET)
  • Dr Sizwe Mabizela, Vice-Chancellor, Rhodes University

Discussions centred around key recommendations and outcomes of the report, including the need to work in partnership, collaborate and invest in the development of researchers - right through from undergraduate level to postdoctoral study.

More information

Earlier this year, the ACU and USAf held a joint symposium on 'Developing the Capacity of Early Career Researchers' at the University of Johannesburg.

This report is a direct outcome from these discussions and is set to inform future work in the area, leading to critical interventions to transform the research landscape in South Africa and advance support for researchers themselves.

The ACU has a proud track record of working with universities and other partners to find innovative ways to support the development of early career academics, including training and development for researchers and strengthening the institutional systems which underpin this.

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