South Africa's National Development Plan (NDP) outlines the need for strategic approaches to drive the country towards a competitive knowledge society and develop the required human capacity in key areas. Central to a highly productive, globally-connected economy are high-level skills and extensive participation in research scholarship. The postgraduate cohort is an essential group for improving the research capacity of the University and contributing to the development of the next generation of academics and researchers. This group also plays a crucial role in sustaining research activities of Universities and in providing the critical high-end skills base that the global labour market demands. For the 2022 academic year 457 Honours, 391 Masters and 195 Doctoral scholarships were awarded as of 25 February 2022 with funding from Council, the National Research Foundation (NRF) and other external funders. Postdoctoral and research fellows at Nelson Mandela University have a unique opportunity to demonstrate originality, creativity, and productivity that will serve them well in their research career. The number of postdoctoral fellows that have registered as of 25 February 2022 is 71.

Through the University Capacity Development Grant (UCDG) funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), the Office of Research Development offers a series of research capacity development workshops for Nelson Mandela University staff, postdoctoral fellows, and registered postgraduate students. The 2022 Research Development Training Schedule was finalised and is accessible online here, with more than 91 virtual workshops planned for 2022. Training offered by the Unit for Statistical Consultation (USC) is ongoing and to date, 71 seats have been reserved for these workshops and applications continue to be received. The USC maintains a hybrid approach of pre-recorded and mask-to-mask offerings and provides step-by-step guides to enable data analysis. Individual consultations via Microsoft Teams and email may be requested by students, fellows and staff.

Nelson Mandela University is committed to transforming the equity profile of academic staff with doctoral degrees. As part of its strategic objective to promote long-term sustainability through strategy-aligned resource mobilisation and responsible stewardship, the university has leveraged funding from the NRF and DHET to ensure that academic staff receive the support and training needed to attain higher degrees. These include the NRF’s Thuthuka funding instrument with 17 grantholders and the Black Academics Advancement Programme (BAAP) which is currently supporting 7 academics.

There are 16 academics supported through the New Generation of Academics Programme (nGAP) With respect to distribution across Faculties, Humanities leads with 4, followed by Science and Education with three each, and Engineering with two, while Health Sciences, Law and Business and Economic Science have one each. Active recruitment is underway to fill seven vacancies which will increase the nGAP cohort to 21.

Targeted funding to support emerging academics is also offered through the DHET-funded University Capacity Development Grant (UCDG) which has been awarded for the new 2021-2023 funding cycle. A call for applications is open for the Nelson Mandela University Internal Research Grants which comprised of the Conference Travel Fund (CTF), the Teaching Relief Grant (TRG) and the Research Development Fund (RDF).

The Office of Research Development continues to support the work of the Human (RECH) and Animal (RECA) research ethics committees which maintain the university’s accreditation with the National Health Research Ethics Council (NHREC).

Nelson Mandela University remains committed to supporting all postgraduate students and emerging researchers during these challenging and uncertain times.