UFH Centre for Global Change sets new enrolment record with 2024 Postgraduate Cohort

Read time: 2 mins

The Centre for Global Change (CGC) at the University of Fort Hare (UFH), formerly known as the Risk & Vulnerability Science Centre, has achieved a groundbreaking enrolment record this academic year with its largest-ever fully funded postgraduate intake of thirty-five students across various disciplines.

Earlier this month, in partnership with the Department of Research and Innovation, the CGC hosted a welcome event for this impressive cohort to introduce them to the Centre’s goals, expectations, resources, and support systems.

Located on the Alice campus, the Centre is one of five initiated by the Department of Science and Innovation, and the National Research Foundation (DSI-NRF) at South African Universities in 2011 as flagship entities under the Global Change Research Plan's (GCRP) framework to direct global change research investments in the country.

According to the Director, Dr Leocadia Zhou, this achievement in recruiting a large pool of fully funded postgraduate students, with crucial support from the NRF, is a strategic milestone for the Centre, the University, and South Africa.

“The CGC's initiative directly addresses the critical findings from the Academy of South Africa, conducted on universities across South Africa, which revealed that the country is lagging behind others in producing postgraduate students, particularly PhD students.”

“Currently, South African universities only produce 26 doctoral students per million citizens, significantly lower than other countries. This inability to produce enough doctoral students to build the knowledge base of the economy and to replace the current cohort of academics in the higher education system has become a pressing challenge. Addressing this issue requires concerted efforts from all universities,” stated Dr Zhou.

According to her, this highlights the need for increased support and investment in postgraduate education to bridge this gap.

"In this context, the Centre’s decision to enroll a large pool of postgraduate students is a strategic milestone. By doing so, we aim to contribute to addressing this national challenge.”

Dr Zhou stated that this attainment is viewed as a vital step in ensuring that Fort Hare plays its part in boosting the production of highly skilled researchers and academics who can drive innovation and development in the country.

“By nurturing the next generation of researchers and thought leaders, we are investing in the future of our country. This is a continuation of the University’s long-standing tradition of producing leaders who have made substantial contributions to our nation, and the CGC is proud to continue this legacy.”