Consider taking a study sabbatical – Q&A with a PhD student and senior lecturer

Posted on June 24, 2015

‘A major barrier to advancing research and postgraduate training at South African universities is the low proportion of academic staff with the appropriate qualifications to drive postgraduate research and to advance knowledge creation.’ This statement is made in the National Research Foundation’s (NRF) Sabbatical Grants Framework. In 2009 only a third of full-time academic staff in science fields held doctoral degrees, which created a so-called burden of supervision. The framework measured the ratio of students to supervisor. In 2005 it was 5,2:1 at master’s level and 2,2:1 at doctoral level.

To increase the number of academic staff with doctorates, the Department of Science and Technology (DST) and the NRF established the Improving Academic Qualifications of Academic Staff and Researchers Grant, also known as the NRF Sabbatical Grant. This grant programme helps increase the number of academic staff with doctoral degrees as it affords lecturers time to pursue doctoral research.

A senior lecturer in the Department of Physiology, Dr Prashilla Soma, was awarded an NRF Sabbatical Grant this year to pursue her doctoral research in the ultrastructural findings of the coagulation profile in patients with diabetes. Her sabbatical will last for 12 months and began officially in March.

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- Author Department of Research and Innovation Support

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