75% of qualifying NRF applicants left behind

Issued by Karabo Khakhau MP – DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation
21 Apr 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Karabo Khakhau MP.

The DA has written to the Minister of Higher Education, Dr Blade Nzimande, requesting his plan to increase access to and funding for the National Research Fund (NRF).

This is after the Department of Science and Innovation disclosed to the parliamentary portfolio committee on higher education, science and innovation that its NRF has rejected 75% of qualifying applications.

The Department further disclosed that to fund “unsuccessful” applicants, it would need an additional estimated budget of R1 billion.

This is concerning considering the large gap that exists between the demand for access to research-based postgraduate funding and the actual funding and space available. Students from largely disadvantaged communities in provinces such as Limpopo are, as a result, left out of learning and growth opportunities.

This department is meant to be an innovation leader in the research field. Its failure to find innovative ways to increase access to the NRF is not only a failure to secure the future of students and South Africa but is also an indication of a lack of innovative leadership in the sector.