South Africa’s first PhD Tracer Study to be unveiled

South Africa’s Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande, will unveil the outcomes of the first National Tracer Study of Doctoral Graduates in South Africa, also known as the PhD Tracer Study on 21 July, 2023 at the CSIR International Convention Centre, Meiring Naudé Road, Pretoria.  

According to press release, the study tracks, among other things, the demographic attributes, work experience, career paths and mobility of doctorate holders who graduated from South African universities between 2000 and 2018.

Minister Nzimande said the imperative to grow the academic pipeline and specifically to increase the production of PhD graduates in South Africa is a policy priority.

“The training of such students is a long and costly endeavour, and the question of the return on investment in producing PhD graduates is a policy concern for the public funders of education,” said the Minister.

While there has been a steep increase in the numbers of doctoral graduates in South Africa, especially over the past 10 to 12 years, the capacity of the labour market to absorb such increasing numbers is unknown.

The study was funded by the Department of Science and Innovation, managed by the Water Research Commission, and executed by a project team from Stellenbosch University’s DSI-NRF Centre of Excellence in Scientometrics and Science, Technology and Innovation Policy.

The Minister will officially receive the study during an event at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on Friday.  The event will include a panel discussion on the significance of the study.  Panelists will include, among others, participants from Absa bank, the National Economic Development and Labour Council, the National Research Foundation and Universities South Africa.

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