In a bid to retain skilled black graduates as academics, the University of Johannesburg (UJ) has received a cash boost from PetroSA to assist historically-disadvantaged learners in the areas of research, innovation and advancement on Friday, 13 May 2011.
The R3 million donation to the university is the continuation of the South Africa’s national oil company’s scholarship programme to fund black and female post-graduate candidates in the levels of Masters and PhD studies at the UJ.
The programme started in 2009 and to date, an amount of R9 million has been donated by the oil company, the donation is worth R3 million a year, over three years.
The programme began following a realisation that most research at South African universities is currently being undertaken by mature, mostly male, white academics. Several universities are already relying on post-retirement contracts with senior researchers to maintain research outputs. The lack of a new generation of scholars is impacting on the future of academic research. The PetroSA donation assists with the unearthing of new talented researchers.
Nkosemntu Nika, PetroSA’s Acting President & CEO, said the donation was also aimed at ensuring the university was able retain skilled black graduates as academics.
“At PetroSA we are proud innovators of cutting-edge technology. We are leaders in our field and therefore encourage the development and nurturing of academic talent. That is why we are involved in the Next Generation Scholars programme,” he said.
“This will ensure that we build a pool of talented young professionals, mainly from historically-disadvantaged communities. This can only be good for the country,” Mr Nika added.
“In the South African context, universities are seen as the traditional providers of the human and intellectual capital to meet society’s future needs, be they in commerce and industry, government or in civil society. Universities are thus the primary, but by no means the only, incubators of future leadership and the providers of a skilled professional workforce. They are also a major source of new knowledge creation through research and innovation,” says UJ’s Prof Ihron Rensburg, Vice-Chancellor and Principal.
As a result of the programme successful master’s students receive R80 000 per annum for two years. The master’s bursary programme acts as a portal into the PhD programme, as the best 50 per cent of the master’s students will be admitted into the PhD programme. PhD students will receive R130 000 per annum for three years. One year may be spent abroad at one of the UJ’s partner universities.
“Universities form part of a global network of knowledge creation and dissemination, and South African universities are very much part of the global village through collaborative research projects, international exchanges and other mechanisms. As our universities become more integrated, new demands are being made upon them. The programme is providing a meaningful learning experience to the nation’s brightest young minds. It is contributing significantly to the UJ’s research capacity development of postgraduate students.”
Concludes Prof Rensburg: “Research is one of the cornerstones of a university and any university worth its salt must be research focused. It is encouraging to see PetroSA investing in the development of the nation’s young researchers as this will translate our technological advances into socio-economic gains for the country.”