Three issues for reflection
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Three issues for reflection. On size/magnitude How much (“knowledge ‘products’) do we produce AND how likely is it that we will be able either to maintain current production or even increase it? On shape

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Three issues for reflection
Three issues for reflection

  • On size/magnitude

    How much (“knowledge ‘products’) do we produce AND how likely is it that we will be able either to maintain current production or even increase it?

  • On shape

    What factors determine the shape, the ways in which knowledge is “distributed” in our higher education system and how likely is it that this will change over the next decade?

  • On stratification

    Who (race and age) produces the bulk of our knowledge and is this likely to change significantly over the next decade?



Some basic facts on size
Some basic facts on size

  • As far as research output in scientific journals is concerned, the HE sector is the dominant sector in the national system of innovation. In 2007, academics produced 86% of all ISI-papers with a South African address.

  • In the same year, the sector also produced 1274 PhD’s and 7516 Masters graduates (of which 3442 were recognized by the Department of Education as “research Masters students).

  • The higher education sector remains the sanctuary of basic research with 42% of all research in the sector classified as such in 2005/6 (the comparable proportion for research in government and science councils is slightly more than 25% with applied research and experimental development constituting the rest).




Production of research Masters and Doctoral graduates


Trends in doctoral first enrolments 2000 2007
Trends in doctoral first enrolments (2000 – 2007)


Conclusions on size
Conclusions on size

  • There is every indication that knowledge output (as measured in terms of article production) may have reached a plateau at around 7 500 article equivalents per year (which constitutes about 0.4% of total world science production as measured in WoS journals).

  • Knowledge production as measured in terms of doctoral output has also flattened of and is now hovering at about 1200 PhD’s per year. Given the recent decline in first doctoral enrolments it is unlikely that we will be able to escalate our PhD production unless we adress a number of systemic constraints such as the size of the pipeline from Honnours onwards and the limited supervisory capacity in the system.



Comments on shape
Comments on shape

  • We define shape of knowledge production in three terms:

    • How knowledge output is distributed across the 23 universities

    • How knowledge output is distributed across different scientific fields by institution

    • How knowledge outputs are distributed differently across scientific journals (specifically ISI- versus non-ISI) by institution




Clusters of universities according to average normed research output and contribution to knowledgebase



Distribution of article output by institution and isi non isi journals 1990 2005
Distribution of article output by institution and ISI/non-ISI journals (1990 – 2005)


The institutional distribution of doctoral production 1990 2007
The institutional distribution ISI/non-ISI of doctoral production (1990 – 2007)



On matters of stratification
On matters of stratification discipline (2007)


Distribution of articles by race and institution 1990 and most recent year
Distribution of articles by race and institution discipline (2007)(1990 and most recent year)



Some concluding predictions for the next decade
Some concluding “predictions” for the next decade university

  • The overall size of the university knowledgebase (i.t.o. article and doctoral output) is unlikely to increase

  • The very skewed shape i.t.o. institutional contribution to the knowledgebase and normed productivity of universities reveals “four” clusters that are unlikely to change fundamentally

  • Unless we significantly broaden the human capital base to include many more black (and to a lesser extent female) academics who publish and regenerate the workforce, it is more than likely that both the volume of output and overall productivity of institutions will decline


Thank you

Thank you university


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