Our Department, as one of the oldest disciplines at the University of Pretoria, has grown tremendously in terms of not only numbers but also in terms of diversification and internationalisation since the early 1990’s.
Since the second half of the 1980’s, our Department experienced a growing number of black students and other international students doing postgraduate studies in our Department. It was also a special occasion when Dr AT Naledzani became the first black student in South Africa to obtain a PhD in Agricultural Economics in 1992.
Undergraduate student numbers for students majoring in Agricultural Economics remains constant at approximately 25 students in the final year class. The more interesting part of our numbers relates to the enrolment of postgraduate students. On average our department has about 150 postgraduate students enrolled for BCom(Hons), MCom, MSc(Agric) and PhD degrees. Full-time PhD students increased rapidly as a result of the greater availability of funding – the majority of them from African countries or disadvantaged groups within South Africa.
What is even more exciting is the fact that the student profile of our Department now reflects the population composition of South Africa very well, with close to 80% of the graduate students coming from previously disadvantaged communities.
Currently, our Department employs no less than twenty lecturers either in permanent or contract positions. Our Department is proud to say that our lecturers are diverse concerning race, gender and training. Our lecturers are experienced in their various academic fields and are passionate about teaching and the mentoring of students during their postgraduate studies.
The performance of our Department regarding internationalisation is most encouraging. Our Department is recognised internationally as one of the Departments conducting sound applied research in South Africa and nowadays also in Southern Africa. As a result, our Department today is still the first point of call for many international visitors and prospective researchers on agricultural policy issues. The recruitment of international students, especially from Africa, and more recently Europe, is another dimension of internationalisation which has been taking place at an ever-increasing rate.
Clearly, our Department is playing the role of an important institution of higher learning in agricultural economics and extension on the African continent.