Message from the Vice-Chancellor and Principal
The University of Pretoria is one of South Africa’s leading research universities. For a number of years it has led the field in South Africa with regard to research output in terms of accredited publications. We are delighted that the University is sustaining its lead, and in fact produced more research outputs than was ever attained by a South African university. In a similar vein, we were also happy to note that the University of Pretoria was again listed as one of four South African universities in the Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s list of the world’s top 500 universities.
The international stature of the University rests to a very large extent on its research activities which are reflected in its diverse publications. These together with its production of masters and doctoral graduates are a measure of the contribution that the University is making to the generation of new knowledge and the application of that knowledge to the development of economic activity in our region.
Given the importance which is attached to ensuring that the University plays a significant role in research and economic development on the African continent, the new strategic plan, Innovation Generation: Creating the Future 2007-2011, sees research and postgraduate education as two of the key drivers for the implementation of the plan. Indeed, key interventions of the plan are to grow the number of postgraduate students, particularly in the natural sciences and engineering, and to ensure that academic staff are able to enhance their research stature through an enabling research environment.
During the past year the University has made significant investments in capital equipment which have ensured that the research groups using the equipment remain internationally competitive and serve as a focus of attraction for postgraduate students. Furthermore, the University collaborates with a number of other universities and research councils in Gauteng in the Regional Expensive Equipment Forum (REEF) which allows for the creation of a pool of equipment that can enhance the productivity of the regions research groups. Another function of REEF is to allow the institutions to support each other in the acquisition of large items of equipment that are funded by national programs. These collaborative arrangements reflect the University's view that institutions in the region need to collaborate in order to ensure national competitiveness in a global research environment.
This report records the steady growth of the University's research activities. It is pleasing to note that the University’s number of NRF rated staff has risen to twenty one percent despite the fact that undergraduate student numbers continue to grow. In addition, a very important spin off of our research intensive activities is that our research active staff have strong interactions with industries that is reflected by the fact that we had research contracts with some 102 companies. These companies provided financial support, seconded staff to work in university laboratories and also supplied much needed logistic support. Research publications provide a measure of international competitiveness, while the interaction with industries and other institutions reflects the local impact of the work that we undertake.
During the period of the new strategic plan, the University intends to enhance its standing internationally and to ensure that its local impact has increased visibility. This report is an encouraging milestone on the journey to this goal.
Professor Calie Pistorius
Vice-Chancellor and Principal