The Doctorate in South Africa: Trends, challenges and constraints

Mouton, Johann (2016)

CITATION: Mouton, J. 2016. The Doctorate in South Africa: Trends, Challenges and Constraints, in M. Fourie-Malherbe, R. Albertyn, C. Aitchison & E. Bitzer. (eds.). Postgraduate Supervision: Future Foci for the Knowledge Society. Stellenbosch: SUN PRESS. 51-82. doi:10.18820/9781928357223/04.

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Chapters in Books

INTRODUCTION: We have witnessed over the past decade a renewed interest in doctoral education in South Africa. This interest has been fuelled by national as well as institutional policies that have identified the production of doctoral graduates as a matter of strategic priority. The country needs more doctoral graduates both to replenish the academic capacity in the higher education sector and to serve the knowledge economy and its new challenges. The aim of this chapter is to argue that four policy discourses have shaped and continue to shape current debates on the production of PhDs in South frica. These discourses address the need for increased volumes of PhD output (growth), efficiency, transformation and quality. But these discourses are not simply separate and parallel ‘forces’ that have differential impacts on doctoral production in South Africa. These discourses are often at odds with one another; they co-exist – often in tension – and sometimes even seem contradictory when taken together. The pursuit of increased numbers (growth) may, for example, have a negative impact on the achievement of quality and even compromise efficiency. These discourses – and the imperatives embedded in them – operate in a complex (higher education) system of recursive causality (feedback loops) and emergent properties (different levels of impact).

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