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22 November 2013

HSRC celebrates 20 years of progress

Ina van der Linde
Press Release

Pretoria – The HSRC Annual Report 2012/2013 is a celebration of the transformation of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) over the past 20 years, resulting in realising 87% (48/59) of its annual targets, as agreed with the Minister of Science and Technology, and achieving a clean audit for the 11th consecutive year.

This was announced by the CEO Professor Olive Shisana at the launch of the report this morning (22/11/2013).  

The processes of the last two decades have resulted in considerable progress.

The organisation implemented turnaround strategies, taking it from near demise to becoming the strong, financially stable organisation it is today with its reach, relevance and impact receiving international recognition.

Strategic planning and performance management, supported by very specific indicators and targets, played a key role in enabling and ensuring these accomplishments.

One of the most important aims of researchers is to add to the body of human knowledge, which can best be accomplished by publishing in internationally recognised journals.  Today, the HSRC can boast a significant publication record in internationally accredited journals, setting the organisation in the scientific forefront. 

Shisana said in the past financial year the HSRC has a proud publishing record: 65 senior researchers published 143 articles were published in peer-reviewed journals of which 115  were in international accredited journals; 8 scholarly books and 39 chapters in recognised scholarly books, and 30 client and other research reports.

Training of young researchers is also a mandatory requirement.  In the past financial year, the organisation trained 41 master’s interns and 42 doctoral and post-doctoral interns, exceeding its set targets in this regard.

The HSRC has deepened its transformation in terms of gender and overall representivity at senior levels. In terms of senior research staff, it is important to note that African senior researchers currently stand out as the best-qualified group in this category, Shisana said.  ‘The publication record indicates that to bring on board more black Africans did not lower the standard as feared, but indeed raised the bar, building the leaders in research of tomorrow.’

The HSRC has received global recognition for various aspects of its research activities. As a recognition of its work in HIV/AIDS the organisation has been appointed as an UNAIDS Collaborating Centre on HIV Prevention Research and Policy.  At a national level the collaboration involves working with the UNAIDS Country Office in South Africa to improve the monitoring, evaluation and reporting of the epidemic at national and provincial levels.

In March 2013, the government’s appointment of the HSRC as an incubator for the South African BRICS Think Tank confirmed the organisation’s role in global research and policy formulation. Working closely with the Departments of Higher Education and International Relations and Cooperation, the think tank’s main role is to conduct evidence-based policy analysis aimed at informing the long-term strategy of BRICS. This entails consultations with academics, policymakers and non-governmental organisations. Other involvement includes chairing global committees and organisations, including the BRICS Think Tanks Council and the International Social Science Council (ISSC). In conjunction with the ISSC and the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) the HSRC will host the World Social Science Forum III in Durban in 2015.

Flagship national longitudinal and repeat surveys that started in 2012/2013 include the 4th South African National HIV, Behaviour and Health Survey (SABSSM), conducted since 2002, the first South African National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (SANHANES), and the South African Social Attitudes Survey, conducted annually for over a decade. These surveys have provided critical information for the government on policy formulation.

The HSRC has also established a dedicated Research Data Management Centre (RDMC) which brings together cross-cutting support functions to ensure that data-intensive research is managed well with high quality and good value for money.

Shisana also announced the Auditor General’s findings that gave the HSRC an unqualified clean opinion without any request for adjustments which is a testimony to the strong internal controls within the HSRC.
The HSRC receives about 50% of its income from Parliament and the rest from external sources, set out in the table below.

Income and expenditure


31 March 2013


31 March 2012

Parliamentary grant received and recognized

188 Million (M)

181 Million (M)

External income target achieved

179 M

144 M

Other income target achieved

29 M

27 M

Actual total expenditure

400 M

348 M

Actual total revenue

396 M

351 M

To conclude, the CEO said the HSRC is a well governed institution that achieved the overwhelming majority of its targets. “We manage our finances very well and we continue to be a global player in knowledge production and communication.

The full report is available on
For further information, contact Julian Jacobs on 082 454 4902 or tel 021 446 8042 or email

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