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NRF and the First Rand Foundation working together to Shape the Research Workforce

NRF and the First Rand Foundation working together to Shape the Research Workforce of the future through a programme for Black academics and persons with disabilities

The National Research Foundation (NRF), in line with its transformation agenda towards changing the profile of the research workforce, has embarked on a strategic partnership with the FirstRand Foundation (FRF) in introducing a new programme directed at supporting Black Academics and persons with disabilities at South African public universities.

The goal of this programme is to promote the development of black African South African academics to become established researchers and to gain national and international recognition as researchers. In addition, the programme will endeavour to support early career academics, particularly black African females and persons with disabilities, to acquire Doctoral level qualifications. It will also assist those employed at public universities to attain postdoctoral research training and build their research profile so as to promote the attainment of an NRF rating.

In this co-funding partnership, the NRF and FRF will equally contribute Rand for Rand over the five year period bringing the total investment in the programme to R164 983 500. The first call for applications, under the call name NRF-FRF Sabbatical Grant, was opened in August 2017, which resulted in 43 fellows being awarded the grant for 2018.

The Chief Executive Officer of the NRF, Dr Molapo Qhobela says: “Transformation continues to remain a critical imperative in post-apartheid South Africa, particularly considering the demographic and gender composition of key sectors of society such as universities.” He adds that: “The Black Academics Programme is an important intervention for South Africa, as it will contribute directly to addressing the challenges of transforming the demographic profile of academics at public universities. In particular, it will increase the number of black African South Africans that participate in the knowledge enterprise.”

“The partnership and co-funding agreement between the FirstRand Foundation and the NRF is a demonstration that the private sector can work with public institutions to address some of the critical challenges which face the country in support of the National Development Plan. With our significant focus on education, the FirstRand Foundation is very pleased with the partnership with the NRF” said Sizwe Nxasana, the chairperson of the FirstRand Foundation.

In 2009, the Council for Higher Education (CHE) reported that only a third of full-time permanent academic staff (PAS) in public universities held doctoral degrees. In addition, NRF data shows that of the 3 392 NRF-rated researchers in South Africa in 2015/16, only 26% were black and 31% were female. The cohort of black NRF-rated researchers comprised of 16% African, 3% Coloured, and 7% Indian academics and researchers. Black African South African citizens made up only 6% of the NRF-rated researchers and only 6[1] of these researchers achieved an A1 or A2 rating (see attached a full list of rating categories).

Dr Molopo Qhobela concluded that “The NRF statistics outlined above indicates the precise motivation that black African participation in knowledge production becomes imperative, and transforming the profile of active black researchers in the South African National System of innovation will be a fundamental approach. For this reason, we look forward to a successful long-standing partnership and working closely with the FirstRand Foundation representatives, in particular, Mr Sizwe Nxasana, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, Ms Beth van Heerden and Mr Khaya Tyatya.”

Ends

For further information or to arrange an interview with Dr Molapo Qhobela on NRF’s transformation priorities please contact:

Palesa Mokoena
National Research Foundation
Tel: 012 481 4058
Email: palesa.mokoena@nrf.ac.za

 

ABOUT THE NRF: The National Research Foundation (NRF) is an independent statutory body setup in accordance with the National Research Foundation Act. Its mandate is to support and promote research through funding, human resource development and the provision of the necessary research facilities in order to facilitate the creation of knowledge, innovation and development in all fields of science and technology, including indigenous knowledge, and thereby contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of all South Africans. Website: www.nrf.ac.za | Twitter: @NRF_News | Facebook: @NRFSouthAfrica.

About the FirstRand Foundation

The FirstRand Foundation was created in 1998 and annually receives 1 % of FirstRand Limited’s net profit after tax. Since its creation, the Foundation has granted over R1 billion for social investment projects. In 2014,it refocused its objectives and adopted a more systemic approach which is designed to confront the root causes of social problems (not only the symptoms) through strategic interventions. The Foundation believes this approach will bring about lasting, system-wide change.

Appendix A: Detailed definitions of NRF rating categories and sub-categories

 

Category

Definition

Sub-category

Definition

A

Researchers who are unequivocally recognized by their peers as leading international scholars in their field for the high quality and impact of their recent research outputs.

A1

 

A researcher in this group is recognized by all reviewers as a leading scholar in his/her field internationally for the

high quality and wide impact (i.e. beyond a narrow field of specialization) of his/her recent research outputs

A2

A researcher in this group is recognised by the overwhelming majority of reviewers as a leading scholar in his/her

field internationally for the high quality and impact (either wide or confined) of his/her recent research outputs.

B

Researchers who enjoy considerable international recognition by their peers for the high quality and impact of their recent research outputs.

B1

All reviewers are firmly convinced that the applicant enjoys considerable international recognition for the high quality and impact of his/her recent research outputs, with some of them indicating that he/she is a leading international scholar in the field.

B2

All or the overwhelming majority of reviewers are firmly convinced that the applicant enjoys considerable international recognition for the high quality and impact of his/her recent research outputs.

B3

Most of the reviewers are convinced that the applicant enjoys considerable international recognition for the high quality and impact of his/her recent research outputs.

C

Established researchers with a sustained recent record of productivity in the field who are recognised by their peers as having:

  • Produced a body of quality work, the core of which has coherence and attests to ongoing engagement with the field
  • Demonstrated the ability to conceptualise problems and apply research methods to investigating them.

C1

Some reviewers as already enjoying considerable international recognition; OR The overriding majority of reviewers as being a scholar who has attained a sound/solid international standing in their

field, but not yet considerable international recognition; OR The overriding majority of reviewers as being a scholar whose work focuses mainly on local and/or regional issues and who as a scholar at a nationally leading level has substantially advanced knowledge and understanding in the

field by contributing to new thinking, a new direction and/or a new paradigm.

C2

All of the reviewers are firmly convinced that the applicant is an stablished researcher as described. The applicant may, but need not, enjoy some international recognition for the quality and impact of his/her recent  research outputs.

C3

Most of the reviewers concur that the applicant is an established researcher (as described).

P

Young researchers (normally younger than 35 years of age), who have held the doctorate or equivalent qualification for less than five years at the time of application and who, on the basis of exceptional potential demonstrated in their published doctoral work and/or their research outputs in their early

post-doctoral careers are considered likely to become future international leaders in their field.

 

Researchers in this group are recognised by all or the overwhelming majority of reviewers as having demonstrated the potential of becoming future international leaders in their field on the basis of exceptional research performance and output from their doctoral and/or early post-doctoral research careers.

Y

Young researchers (40 years or younger), who have held the doctorate or equivalent qualification for less than five years at the time of application, and who are recognised as having the potential to establish themselves as researchers within a five-year

period after evaluation, based on their performance and the production of quality research outputs during their doctoral studies and/or early post-doctoral careers.

Y1

A young researcher (within 5 years from PhD) who is recognised by all reviewers as having the potential (demonstrated by quality research products) to establish him/herself as a researcher with some of them indicating that he/she has the potential to become a future leader in his/her field OR A young researcher (within 5 years from PhD) who is recognised by all or the overwhelming majority of reviewers as having the potential to establish him/herself as a researcher of considerable international standing on the basis of the quality and impact of his/her recent research outputs

Y2

A researcher in this group is recognised by all or the overwhelming majority of reviewers as having the potential to establish himself/herself as a researcher (demonstrated by recent research products).Definition of rating categories

 


[1] A1 rating = 1 African male), A2 rating = 2 African females and 3 African males

 

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