South African universities produce a woefully inadequate number of doctorates and are unlikely to meet the National Development Plan’s target of producing 5 000 PhDs by 2030, academics have said.
A snap City Press survey revealed that in 2013 our universities produced just over 1 800 doctorates.
Wits University’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal Professor Adam Habib said: “[To meet the National Development Plan target, universities] will have to fundamentally change the way they do things.”
A study conducted by the Academy of Science for SA in 2010 showed PhD production had climbed in the past 20 years. In 1996, local universities produced only 685 PhD graduates. By 2010 the figure had more than doubled to 1 421.
But that growth still leaves us far behind other countries like Brazil, whose University of Sao Paulo alone produced 2 244 PhDs in 2010.
South Africa and Brazil are at similar stages of development.
Habib said the increase South Africa had recorded in the past two decades was “glaringly insufficient” for a 21st-century, knowledge-based economy.
The Academy of Science’s report revealed that South Africa currently produces between 23 and 27 PhDs per 1 million people each year.