Production of Academics and Stronger Industry Education Partnerships
One of the most predominant challenges that the South African workforce faces is that the current labour force does not represent the country’s racial demographics.
According to a HESA report on the Next Generation of Academics (May 2011), about one fifth of academics are due to retire in less than a decade, including half of the professoriate. There is major concern in the country that there are not enough existing academics and no postgraduate pipeline to replace those due to retire.
To ensure a pipeline of academics who are supported and encouraged to pursue a career in academia and to ensure that those persons that do pursue a career in academia remain in the university system and contribute meaningfully to teaching, research and community development. Lastly, it aims to strengthen partnerships between Higher Education institutions and industry in research and development.
Universities have different histories, cultures, knowledge niches and expertise and this need to be taken into account when developing a strategy for closer industry/education collaboration.
Student numbers have grown significantly in recent years and this growth in student intake has not been commensurate with an increase in funding. Due to the increase in student numbers student/staff ratios have increased which impacts on the ability of staff to conduct research.
South Africa is not producing enough PhD students. The research has shown that only 36% of academics have PhD degrees and that for every 6.9 Masters students only 1 of these will obtain a Doctoral degree.
From the above it is clear that very targeted and considered interventions are required in order to ensure that South Africa has an academic labour force that is able to meet the teaching, learning and research demands of the future.
The TTT has established 7 work streams as follows:
- Attracting, retaining and absorption of academics
- Identification of disciplines that will suffer most from a shortage of academics
- Developing a funding model for the development of academics
- Promotion of interaction, university collaboration and engagement
- Identification of economic sectors that should be targeted for university-industry collaboration
- National system of innovation
- Best-practice sustainable models (local and international) to attract and retain academics into the higher education system in SA.
- Critical success factors for attracting academics into a career in academia must be identified as well as ways of retaining academics within the system
- Critical components required to build and strengthen industry/higher education partnerships that contribute to innovation and job creation
- Are required to ensure that models to attract and retain academic staff and strengthen industry/higher education partnerships are implemented
- Disciplines that are most likely to suffer as a result of academics and should be selected for immediate prioritisation
- Measures that must be taken to ensure that universities and academics develop a more nuanced understanding of business and its requirements
- Strategies to be adopted that will promote interaction and alignment with national and regional priority sectors
- Strategies to be adopted to promote coordination and alignment between universities and other agencies
- Strategies to promote stronger collaboration within the national science and technology system
- Identified industry/ sectors that should be selected for prioritisation regarding the promotion of industry/higher education partnerships