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Message from DVC (Research and Postgraduate Affairs)


Welcome to the office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Postgraduate Affairs. The office has overall responsibility for the University's research enterprise, postgraduate affairs and strategic partnerships. The scope of activities covers a broad spectrum of research schools and departments, institutes and centres in the natural, health and bio-sciences, engineering, social sciences and the humanities.

Over the years the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) has become internationally recognised for academic excellence and extensive research activities. A few examples will illustrate the point. Wits was the first South African university to have a nuclear accelerator, to have a computer, to study building materials, to produce a systematic climatological atlas of southern Africa and to achieve a successful graft of a plastic cornea. During the World War II members of the University staff took an active part in the original development and construction of RADAR. Following the initial discovery, by Raymond Dart in 1924, of the Taung child skull, Wits has led in advancing the theory of human origins. Wits researchers played a key role in the first detection of atmospheric neutrinos in a deep underground mine on the East Rand of Johannesburg.

This international recognition is probably best demonstrated by the four Nobel prizes awarded to its staff and alumni: Aron Klug for Chemistry (1982), Nadine Gordimer for Literature (1991), Nelson Mandela Nobel Peace Prize (1993) and Sydney Brenner Physiology or Medicine (2002).

In a South African context the indicators of success include hosting the largest number of highly prestigious National Research Foundation (NRF) - Department of Science and Technology (DST) Centres of Excellence (CoE) in the country. These virtual entities are part of the DST-NRF funding instrument that seeks to concentrate existing research excellence and capacity and resources to enable researchers to collaborate across disciplines and institutions on long-term projects that are locally relevant and internationally competitive. Furthermore, our research leadership is confirmed by the following: 26 research chairs of the South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI) and 407 NRF rated researchers of which 28 are rated as world leaders in their respective fields; top ranking in South Africa and the African continent by the Centre for World University Ranking (CWUR) for – among other criteria – the number of patents and publications in high-impact journals. Furthermore, the latest Times Higher Education (THE) BRICS and Emerging Economies ranking places Wits in position eight.

Our strategic aspirations are to grow our research intensity and global competitiveness while remaining locally relevant.  Part of this strategy is to change our student profile. Currently our student cohort comprises approximately 12 000 postgraduate students and we hope to shift this ratio closer to 1 to 1.

After that brief introduction I invite you to examine the pages of this website to learn more about research at Wits.  I also invite meaningful and equitable research partnerships from interested parties.