Page 6 - University of Pretoria RESEARCH REVIEW 2016
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 4 | UP Research Review 2016
The production of the Research Reviews is always a highlight in the annual research calendar of the University of Pretoria, and the UP Research Review 2016 is no exception.
Our commitment is to pursue research that matters, and to do so in ways that underscore quality, impact and excellence. This commitment speaks directly to the University’s long-term vision: to be a leading research-intensive university in Africa, recognised internationally for our quality, relevance and impact, and also for developing people, creating knowledge and making a difference locally and globally. The year 2016 concluded the first five-year implementation cycle of the University’s long-term strategic plan, UP 2025, and it has been possible to follow clear trends in the progress we have made towards the achievement the strategic goals and targets set five years ago, and of the challenges that remain. A critical point of reference has been the development and final adoption, in September 2015, of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The seventeen goals frame much of what is now considered to be a necessary and overdue call to action, effectively to address the major challenges that confront our 21st century world – at global, regional and national levels.
Research is one mode of response to the challenges, and universities have an important role to play in contributing to the achievement of the SDGs in our African region, and globally. The research showcased in this Review illustrates many ways in which UP actively pursues research that has an impact on development, wellbeing and social justice. There are many more examples, but each year we deliberately attempt to showcase new examples, and different dimensions to old narratives, of research at UP. The Vice-Chancellor and Principal’s Foreword outlines the themes that cluster the content presented here: development and the economy, human rights, heritage and society, health, natural environments, and plant production and food security – each emphasising the importance of sustainable development. My task is to provide, in overview, a brief analysis of research achievements in 2016 to provide a broader contextual background to the content of this Review.
At the core of the University’s research strength are our staff and young, emerging scientists, and a research environment that makes it possible for researchers to thrive. In 2016, 63.4% of our academic staff held doctoral degrees, the number of postdoctoral fellows recruited to become part of UP’s research community stood at 237, and postgraduate students as a percentage of overall enrolment was 37%. There has been a 51% increase in doctoral graduates since 2012, and year-on-year there has been an increase in doctoral enrolment. The benefits of UP’s focus on areas of research strength have stimulated cross-disciplinary cooperation, research productivity, the strategic targeting of postgraduate students and postdoctoral fellows, and external funding.

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