DST Minister supports National Science Deans Forum

Posted on April 12, 2013

These were the opening words of the Minister of Science and Technology, Mr Derek Hanekom, at the National Science Deans Forum *(NSDF) on 5 April 2013.

The Forum was chaired by UP’s Dean of Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Prof Anton Ströh, who  laid down the reigns as the Chairperson of the NSDF after four years. He was also one of the founding members of the NSDF. Prof Hlengani Siweya, Executive Dean: Faculty of Science and Agriculture from the University of Limpopo, was elected as the new Chairperson.

During his address, Mr Hanekom emphasised that ‘human capital development is at the heart of the work we do in the Department of Science and Technology (DST), and explained that the Department’s Strategy for Human Capital Development for Research Innovation and Scholarship has been gazetted for public comment. The strategy aims to increase the number of active researchers and to enhance research and innovation skills, as well as outputs, in order to improve South Africa’s international competitiveness as a producer of scientific knowledge and innovation in support of national socioeconomic development. It will also guide the investment in student training and researcher development, while maximising the outputs of established researchers.’

He  further said that ‘the continuous development and strengthening of astronomy in South Africa remains a high priority for the DST and shared some developments around the Square Kilometer Array South Africa (SKA-SA) project, as well as the progress made with the construction of the MeerKAT. To date, the African SKA Human Capital Development Programme has awarded close to 400 grants for studies in astronomy and engineering, from undergraduate to postdoctoral level.’

Mr Hanekom also spoke on the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChl) and emphasised that its aim is to strengthen research capacity and leadership at South African public universities by attracting established researchers from abroad and from industry to higher-education institutions, and retaining those already in the system. ‘To date we have 154 research chairs, with 118 of those already having been filled.’

The Minister concluded his address by reassuring the deans about funding for Human Capital Development (HCD) – including postgraduate student support – and investment in research infrastructure over the next few years. ‘In November last year, I announced the allocation of R798 million for HCD initiatives, and approved the transfer of these funds to the National Research Foundation for HCD in the 2012–13 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF),’ he pointed out. ‘Also, over the 2013–14 MTEF period an additional investment of R400 million in the 2015–16 financial year has been made by the National Treasury towards postgraduate student support. The bulk of these funds will be given to the NRF for distribution for student bursaries and researcher-grant funding.’

*The NSDF consists of all the deans of all the science faculties at the South African universities, including universities of technology, and was established in November 2006.  The main reasons for establishing the NSDF are the following:

• to create a network for sharing policy information across the science higher education sector
• to create a national platform to interact with government through liaison with the Department of Science and Technology, the Department of Higher Education and Training, and the Department of Basic Education
• to identify critical areas of common challenges that science faculties face within the higher  education system, with the aim of finding solutions
• to collectively develop strategies to advance science in SA and the SADC region through quality research and education
• to share best practices

Copyright © University of Pretoria 2024. All rights reserved.

FAQ's Email Us Virtual Campus Share Cookie Preferences