Opening debate in Parliament on her department’s R6.47 billion budget, she told MPs the country currently turned out just over 1800 PhDs a year.
“The National Development Plan sets a target of 100,000 PhDs by 2030, to improve research and innovation capacity. In order to reach this target we need to train 6000 PhDs per annum.
“We now produce just over 1800 PhDs per year. To train 6000 a year will cost an additional R5.8 billion a year,” Pandor said.
Doctoral level research is seen as essential for developing the technological innovations needed to attract investment and grow the economy.
South Africa spends less than one percent of its GDP on research and development, compared to a global average of 1.77 percent.
Pandor said that of this year’s R6.47bn science and technology budget, R3.5bn was allocated to research and development. Of the latter amount, R1.7bn was earmarked for research grants and bursaries.
On the training of doctoral graduates, she said the country lacked research-supervision capacity, and there were too few students.
“We need to support researchers who are capable of supervising post-graduate students, and to create appropriate incentives for students to remain in the system up to doctoral level.”
She said the global Square Kilometre Array project had awarded grants to many students.
“The success rate of the programme has been very high, with 36 doctoral degrees, 95 master’s degrees, 59 honours degrees, 58 BSc and BEng degrees, and 16 national diplomas awarded.”