The Department of Science and Technology (DST) continues to invest heavily in human capital development to strengthen South Africa's postgraduate training, research and innovation, and to improve the country's global competitiveness. The Minister of Science and Technology has approved the transfer of R798 million to the National Research Foundation (NRF) for human resource development in the three-year period 2012/13 to 2014/15 (2012/13 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).
The NRF plays an important role in the realisation of the national objective of developing high-level human capital. As approved in the MTEF, the DST will allocate the additional R87 million, R310 million and R401 million in the 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2014/15 financial years, respectively, in relevant NRF programmes.
The department has identified new-generation researchers, emerging researchers and established researchers as components of the human capital pipeline. The funds will be invested across these components as follows:
New-generation researchers (R450 million)
Postgraduate bursaries: Postgraduate bursaries have received a boost of R340 million. The allocation will enhance funding for postgraduate students by improving the per capita bursary values and increasing the number of funded students, thus boosting the postgraduate pipeline retention in scarce and critical knowledge areas. Approximately 10% of the funding at this level will be used to support collaborative postgraduate programmes that focus on training students in priority areas.
Internship programme: One of South Africa's biggest challenges is the high rate of unemployment, particularly among the youth. The department focuses not only on the supply of skills, but also on their absorption in the system. The DST internship programme has been managed by the NRF since the 2005/06 financial year. This programme will receive an increased allocation of R110 million over the next three years. The department has supported the placement of an average of 250 graduate interns annually.
This allocation will allow for a more than two-fold increase in the number of interns supported in the programme each year. What is promising about this programme is that, while the department encourages interns to study further, about 60% of them are employed by their host companies at the end of the 12 months internship.
Emerging researchers (R196 million) In an effort to increase the number, and enhance the race, gender, and age profiles of productive researchers, the DST will strengthen support for emerging researchers by increasing investment in programmes such as the following:
Once-off research development grants will be made to qualifying young, black and/or women researchers with a valid NRF Y-rating to assist these researchers to become established researchers.
Research career advancement fellowships will be offered to senior postdoctoral fellows who will be groomed for eventual research leadership positions and as potential candidates for the South African Research Chairs Initiative. The targets for allocation will be 50% women and 80% black individuals to bring about transformation in scientific leadership.
Sabbatical grants will be awarded to fast-track the completion of doctoral degrees by academic staff at universities.
Established researchers (R152 million) these funds will provide funding for two centres of excellence that were previously not fully funded, as well as for the establishment of six new centres of excellence. The breakdown of how the R798 million will be used in the 2012/13 to 2014/15 MTEF period is illustrated below:
Issued by: Department of Science and Technology