Reflecting on South Africa's PhD output ambitions


Reflecting on South Africa's PhD output ambitions

The South African National Planning commission expects a threefold increase in doctoral graduates by 2030, and has set a target of 5000 doctoral graduates per annum for the South African higher education system. This against a backdrop of a system that only managed to double its doctoral output over the past 15-year period, from 685 to the current doctoral output of 1421 graduates.

At a recent CHET seminar on doctoral production, 'Knowledge Production in South African Higher Education', this target was questioned; and attention was drawn to the fact that any increase in doctoral production must be tempered by a more nuanced understanding of doctoral education -- particularly the way in doctoral degrees are structured in South Africa, how doctoral students are supported and supervised, the differences between professional and academic doctoral qualifications and how these impact on the potential contribution of doctoral qualifications on the knowledge economy.

For a more detailed analysis of South Africa's PhD ambitions, see Goolam Mohamedbhai's article 'Are national goals for doctoral education realistic?' published on University World News.

Click here to read Prof. Andre du Toit's paper which provides an overview of the PhD in South Africa, and includes a caution of the dangers of simply increasing PhD output based on how the PhD degree is currently structured.