The country is simply not producing enough PhD graduates, and, by implication, post-doctoral fellows (post-docs). This was one of the crucial findings of a Tracer Survey that tracked the work experience, demographic attributes, career paths, and mobility of PhD graduates and post-docs who graduated from South African universities between 2000 and 2018.

Lead researcher, Professor Johann Mouton (above), Director in the Centre for Excellence for Scientometrics and Science, Technology and Innovation Policy (SciSTIP), based at Stellenbosch University, concluded: “In my estimate, unless there are serious interventions from government and the private sector to allocate funding to attract more PhDs – or masters students to enrol for PhDs – we will not get to the targeted 5 000 postgraduates by 2030 on the current forecasting models.”

He was speaking virtually at the launch of the first national tracer study report on doctoral graduates in South Africa, known as the PhD Tracer Study Report, to the Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Innovation, Dr Blade Nzimande. Held at the CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria, the event was hosted by and aired on Business Day TV.