Building a cadre of emerging researchers in the higher education system
Universities SA (USAf) has undertaken a DST funded national research project in collaboration with CREST (University of Stellenbosch) on developing a new cadre of emerging researchers in the university system.
The purpose of this study, which is being undertaken in 25 of the 26 public universities is to:
- Establish the proportion and demographics of academics at lecturer and senior lecturer who are active researchers;
- Investigate the environmental context, enablers and impediments to increasing the number of emerging researchers; and
- Make recommendations to increase the number, diversity and representivity of emerging researchers in the system.
The study is divided into three phases, which include desktop research into national and institutional policy frameworks in this regard, and also into SA’s relevant knowledge databases. A web-based survey of academics at these universities forms the third leg before analysis and report writing begins. It is anticipated that findings of this study will inform USAf’s strategy to grow the number of emerging researchers – with the aim of realising the National Development Plan’s vision of 100 doctoral graduates per million of population per year by 2030. USAf’s Operations and Sector Support division, which is playing a key co-ordinating role in this regard, anticipates to have a draft report by November 2017, and a final report in the first quarter of 2018.
Human Resources Practitioners’ Development – pilot project
Participants at the HR Practitioners’ Development pilot programme in July 2017
In the quest to create highly skilled human resources practitioners, and to ensure that they meet the changing staff development needs of higher education, Universities SA (USAf), in consultation with experts in this field, has conceptualised and tailored a Human Resources Development Programme specifically for practitioners within universities. This training is also seen as an important catalyst for institutional efficiencies and effectiveness expected of the new generation of HR practitioners.
The programme, accredited by the South African Board for People Practices (SABPP), is a combination of self-study, two intense contact weeks, assignments and self-reflection stretched over a six month period. It is being run as a pilot in 2017, with funding support from the Education, Training and Development Practices Sector Education and Training (ETDP SETA).
The pilot exercise kicked off in July with 33 trainees drawn from 15 institutions. The trainees completed Study School 1 (SS1), which was hosted at the University of the Western Cape from 17 – 22 July. SS1 offered five modules on Change Management; University Strategy; HR Strategy; HR Service delivery and Personal Development. SS2, to be hosted at the University of Pretoria from 23-28 October 2017, will still cover five modules titled Talent Management, HR Risk Ethics, HR Risk & Governance, HR Analytics & Personal development.
Minimum admission requirements for entry into universities
In response to requests from the Departments of Higher Education and Training (DHET) and Basic Education (DBE) the “designated list” of NSC subjects which forms part of the gazetted minimum requirements for higher education admission is being reviewed and is likely to be abolished. In response to this, and at the request of the DHET, USAf’s Admissions Committee will be involved in a project to determine appropriate minimum requirements for entry into certificate, diploma and degree study in public and private HEIs. The minimum entry requirements will be determined for holders of the National School Certificate (NSC); National Certificate Vocational (NCV), the Amended Senior Certificate (SCa) and National Senior Certificate for Adults (NASCA). The Admissions Committee is the only body within USAf founded in terms of a legal statute to advise not only the USAf Board but also the Minister of Higher Education and Training on the regulation of minimum requirements for admission into higher education.
To achieve the goal of this project, the Admissions Committee will interrogate existing empirical evidence demonstrating a) predictors of success at university and b) minimum admission requirements. Although some evidence resides in published and unpublished studies by several entities including Umalusi in 2013, former Higher Education South Africa (HESA) in 2014 and USAf in 2015, USAf will probably commission further research, particularly as much existing empirical work pre-dates the CAPS changes to the NSC. The USAf Board accepted the proposal that this study be funded by the Matriculation Board.
As at August, 2017, USAf was preparing to invite proposals from qualifying entities to conduct this inquiry. It is envisaged that studies will get underway early in 2018, yielding findings towards mid-year.