14 February 2012
Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor has announced that a total of 60 new research chairs will be awarded to universities across South Africa over the next three years.
This will increase the number of research chairs in South Africa to 154.
The South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) is a flagship initiative of the government, designed to attract and retain excellence in research and innovation in South African science.
Its main goal is to strengthen the capacity of country’s universities to produce high-quality postgraduate students, research and innovation outputs.
Since the SARChI’s inception in 2005, the 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 country’s universities of technology, rural-based institutions, and those that have not yet participated in the programme.
Priority areas of development
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 areas.
Improving SA’s competitiveness
Pandor said she was confident that these new positions would improve South Africa’s international research and innovation competitiveness while responding to the socio-economic challenges facing the country.
The distribution of the new chairs is as follows: