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Developing the Next Generation of Academics

Growing the Future Academics of Engineering and the Built Environment (EBE)

The Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (EBE) at UCT is intent on producing both knowledge and professional graduates who make a positive impact in South Africa, as well as globally.  There is also a growing need for the academic profession to contribute towards the social and economic development demands of South Africa as well as the broader continent. To do this we need to attract and develop the best, most passionate, committed and diverse students and staff into our faculty. The Faculty aims to support the development of diversity and excellence in the academic profession by introducing strategic programmes to contribute to the transformation of the faculty and the university’s academic space. Key Programme Interventions are:

  • Undergraduate Level Research Programmes
  • Postgraduate Bursaries / Scholarships
  • Early career development and support

While our student profile is a diverse representation some of the best talent in our country, our academic staff profile still lacks transformation. Black South Africans are significantly under-represented in the faculty’s academic staff profile as well as in management positions. In order to address the transformation of the current EBE academic staff profile, the faculty will inject early and consistent interventions that can be sustained throughout the academic journey, from first year to professorship. Over a period of five years, we aim to prepare approximately 90 candidates with programme costs estimated at R 17 million per year.

Leading with Excellence Campaign

The University of Cape Town’s Faculty of Health Sciences has a prestigious reputation for medical achievement. It is ranked among the top 50 medical schools in the world, and its ground-breaking research has impacted on health globally. It is also known for having trained some of the finest health practitioners and health scientists internationally. With austerity measures being imposed upon the Department of Medicine by the Provincial Government of the Western Cape, the Department has decided to launch a fundraising campaign titled Leading with Excellence which will allow us to take greater control of our strategic initiatives. The goals of this campaign will include establishing new professorships, retention strategies of early career health professionals, updated academic and clinical buildings, and scholarships/fellowships to support our transformative agenda. The beneficiaries of this fundraising campaign will comprise primarily members of the Department of Medicine at UCT, and this will indirectly impact on the communities we serve in the Western Cape, the Provincial Government of the Western Cape, including Groote Schuur Hospital, as most of our staff share joint appointments. There is also significant overlap in the nature of our work and the larger UCT community. While the campaign target is set at R 200 million over five years, one of the more immediate aspects of the campaign is the training of postgraduate and postdoctoral candidates to ensure a pipeline of talent from student to early career scholars and professorships. Scholarships for such training is valued at a total cost of R 30 million over the next five years.

Transformative Pipeline for Mathematics and Applied Mathematics

The Department of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics at UCT is world-renowned for the strength of its teaching and research. It is home to more than 30 permanent academic members, many with National Research Foundation ratings and several internationally recognised as leading experts in their respective fields, for example Topology, Category Theory and Cosmology.  Unfortunately the staff profile of the department is under-represented by Black South Africans, with currently only one appointed in a full-time Lectureship position. The department currently teaches 6756 undergraduates across the faculties of Science, Engineering and Commerce, of which 40% are Black South African. In order to address this issue, the department is putting together a transformative programme to develop young academic staff who will represent the future in what is one of Africa’s leading Mathematics Departments. The aim is to produce a homegrown pipeline of research mathematicians, some of whom will fill vacancies as they arise and as existing staff retire or resign annually. The programme supports two students per year, for a total of ten years, from Honours level. In addition we wish to support two Masters and one Doctoral student from 2019. In total, thirteen postgraduate students will be fully supported all the way to completing their doctoral studies. The total cost of the programme is R 47 million and we have thus far secured R 6 million.

Researcher Development Programme

Integral to the new strategic plan for UCT is the continual development of emerging researchers. In particular we seek to attract more black, women and disabled South African postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows to broaden the pool of future academics.  The Researcher Development Programme is for early career academics or those who have not yet established themselves as researchers. It includes a wide range of professional development seminars and workshops which are open to all staff, as well as research development grants for eligible early career scholars. The impact of the programme is, on the individual level, a demonstrable improvement in leadership ability and academic status through a focus on research, writing and management skills. At the collective level, it will transform the current demographic of academic staff such that it is more inclusive and diversely representative. In this way UCT will ensure its contribution to the growing base of knowledge production and strengthen socially responsive research, developing theory that is appropriate to South Africa’s location on the continent. Donor funding for the programme is needed to supplement what the university provides from its current resources. To this extent, our annual funding shortfall is calculated at R1 million per year.

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