South Africa: Is There a Doctor in the House? We Need More PhD Graduates


The debate in academic circles over whether South Africa is producing too many, or too few, PhD graduates is an important one. But it shouldn't be reduced to a quality over quantity issue - we need quality and quantity.

There is an interesting and troubling debate that seems to be bubbling under in South Africa when it comes to a PhD (Doctorate of Philosophy). It would be good that the debate in question comes to the surface and we engage robustly with those involved instead of sensationalising the issue and leaving it to sound bites on social networks.

Sioux McKenna recently indicated that there is a process to check the quality of doctorates in South Africa. Apparently, the National Research Foundation (NRF) and the Council on Higher Education (CHE) are sponsoring, if not leading, the said process. Incidentally, Brenda Wingfield explains the importance of a PhD on the same day that McKenna's article appeared in The Conversation. The NRF tweeted that the quality of PhDs would be assured by the Council on Higher Education.

In 2000 The Economist wrote about the "hopeless continent", referring to Africa. In 2012 it characterised Africa as a "hopeful continent". In 2010 it had written...

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