Book on The Doctorate in South Africa to be launched in March 2014


Charles Sheppard and Nico Cloete

The Doctorate in South Africa, co-edited by Dr Nico Cloete (Director of the Centre for Higher Education Transformation) and Prof Johann Mouton (Director of the Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology at the University of Stellenbosch) is to be launched soon.

The book reveals that in many developed countries governments are beginning to ask if it is time to slow the PhD production line. This stems from a recognition that many PhD graduates are unable to find relevant employment and that questions with regard to the quality and relevance of PhDs have been raised. By contrast developing countries are making huge investments in the knowledge economy, with increasing doctoral production being one of the conditions. The book argues that in Africa the call for increasing doctoral production is without an economic context since it is not part of an agreed upon role for the university in economic development.

In South Africa global and national competition, quality, transformation and efficiency affect pressure on the production of PhDs. Over the period 1996 to 2011 the total of doctoral enrolments in South Africa increased by 149%. The number of African students increased by 795%, Coloured students by 280% and Indian students by 250%, whilst White student enrolments increased by only 26% over this period. Female doctoral candidates increased their share of enrolments from 34% in 1996 to 45% of the total in 2011. International students constituted a 32% share of all doctoral graduates in 2011, with Africans who were not from South Africa making up by far the largest proportion of foreigners (406 out of 536 or 76%). While Africans constituted a 40% share of all graduates, Africans who were South African citizens contributed 15% while Africans from other parts of the continent made up 26% of all doctoral graduates.

During the post-1996 period, South Africa underwent one of the fastest demographic changes in doctoral enrolment and graduation in the world. In particular, the rate of change in African participation is unprecedented, while the increase in female students is impressive by any world standard. The fact that the majority of African doctoral graduates are non-South African Africans is both a challenge and a celebration. The challenge is to increase the number of Africans who are South African citizens at a faster rate. The celebration is that South Africa is well poised to become the African powerhouse of doctoral study.

Dr Charles Sheppard is a Director: Management Information at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University

Dr Nico Cloete is a Director of the Centre for Higher Education Transformation (CHET)

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The Research Bulletin on Post-School Education and Training is prepared by the Directorate: Research Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation. Enquiries or contributions may be directed to: Lesego RamoseTel: 012 312 5657 Email: Department of Higher Education and Training, 123 Francis Baard Street, Pretoria 0001