New research chairs for varsities
Pretoria - Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor has announced that a total of 60 new Research Chairs will be awarded to various institutions of higher learning across South Africa during the 2011/12 and 2013/14 Medium Term Expenditure Framework.
This, according to the department, increases the number of Research Chairs in South Africa to 154.
The South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) is a flagship initiative of government, designed to attract and retain excellence in research and innovation in the South African science field.
The main goal is to strengthen the country’s universities to produce high quality postgraduate students, research and innovation outputs.
Since SARChI’s inception in 2005, government has invested over R1.1 billion in the programme, which is managed by the National Research Foundation (NRF).
In awarding the 60 new Chairs, special consideration was given to the universities of technology, rural based institutions and those that have not participated in the programme.
The thematic areas in which the Chairs have been awarded are a direct response to the five priorities of government, namely the creation of decent work and sustainable livelihoods, education, health, rural development, and the fight against crime and corruption.
Four Chairs in Education were awarded in addition to the seven existing Chairs, with some of the new Chairs focusing on Higher Education challenges while the existing ones focus mainly on primary and secondary education issues.
In addition to the 13 Chairs in Health, 12 more were awarded with a strong focus on diagnostics and drug discovering, while others were in areas of health policy and rural health development
Seven new Chairs in rural development, food security and land reform were added in addition to the three existing Chairs in this area.
In addition to the nine existing Chairs in the area of Square Kilometre Array (SKA), one Chair was awarded in this area, making it to a total of 10 Chairs in SKA related area.
Pandor said she was confident that these awards would improve South Africa’s international research and innovation competitiveness while responding to the socio-economic challenges facing the country.
The distribution of Chairs has been done as follows:
Universityof the Western Cape 7
Stellenbosch University 6
Tshwane University of Technology 6
Rhodes University 5
University of Cape Town 4
University of Pretoria 4
University of Johannesburg 4
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University 4
University of the Witwatersrand 3
University of KwaZulu-Natal 3
University of the Free State 3
North West University 2
Cape Peninsula University of Technology 2
University of Venda 2
University of Limpopo 1
University of South Africa 1
University of Fort Hare 1
Central University of Technology 1
Durban University of Technology 1