Cash boost for UJ's research students

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Pretoria - In a bid to retain skilled black graduates as academics, the University of Johannesburg has received a cash boost from PetroSA to assist historically-disadvantaged learners in the areas of research, innovation and advancement.

The R3 million donation to the university is the continuation of the South Africa's national oil company's scholarship programme to fund black and female post-graduate candidates in the levels of Masters and PhD studies at the UJ.

The programme started in 2009 and to date, an amount of R9 million has been donated by the oil company, the donation is worth R3 million a year, over three years.

Named the Next Generation Scholars programme, it aims to change the face of postgraduate studies in the country by focusing on the value of research outputs in universities.

PetroSA spokesperson Thabo Mabaso explained that the programme began following a realisation that most research at South African universities is currently being undertaken by mature, mostly male, white academics.

"Several universities are already relying on post-retirement contracts with senior researchers to maintain research outputs, the lack of a new generation of scholars is impacting on the future of academic research," Mabaso said, adding that the company's donation assists with the unearthing of new talented researchers.

Students are selected on grounds of their academic record, their skills for and inclination towards an academic career, and whether their disciplines complement the UJ's research and academic niches.

PetroSA's Acting President and CEO Nkosemntu Nika said the company is a proud innovator of cutting-edge technology and leaders in its field and therefore encourage the development and nurturing of academic talent.

"That is why we are involved in the Next Generation Scholars programme, this will ensure that we build a pool of talented young professionals, mainly from historically-disadvantaged communities and this can only be good for the country," said Nika.

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