Robert Dempster
Welcome to my PMB blog, the sixty seventh!
The National Research Foundation sees wood where the University of KwaZulu-Natal sees chaf
The University of KwaZulu-Natal could have done better at retaining staff

First posted: 2 June 2016

Proudly South African South African flag

I guess Edith Dempster's passion has always been animals, and that probably explains why she left Natal University (Durban) many years ago with an Honours degree in the Life Sciences. When her family settled in Pietermaritzburg, she was able to return to Natal University, but on the Pietermaritzburg campus, and completed both an MSc and PhD in Zoology. As luck would have it, she graduated at a time when the Life Sciences were flourishing in Pietermaritburg, and so given the volume of young graduates coming through, she did not manage to secure an academic position in the Life Sciences.

So instead, she turned her attention to the education and training of Life Sciences Teachers, and was soon working at the Natal College of Education. From there a move to the Education Department at Natal University (Pietermaritzburg) was a natural progression. There she proceeded to flourish as an academic, and I still cannot understand why she did not receive a personal promotion from her position as a Senior Lecturer to an Associate Professorship. What she did receive was Superannuation and so instead of retiring upon reaching the age of 60 years, she stayed on the staff for another three years.

By now Edith had become as productive as she had ever been, producing a fistful of publications and regularly graduating Masters and PhD. At the end of the three years Edith asked for an extension of her superannuation. The University of KwaZulu-Natal as it now was (UKZN), was not prepared to commit itself to Edith for more than one year. Again I simply cannot understand why. So instead Edith applied for a Senior Research Associate, and this was granted. It of course does not carry a salary, and this seems rather mean as she is now more productive as a researcher and supervisor than she has ever been

This has recently been clearly demonstrated. It came in the form of the award of a National Research Foundation (NRF) 'C' rating. This is serious recognition, and the awards accumulated by individual universities can be used an indicator of their research and development strengths. I have done a simple analysis of these NRF Ratings on several occasions over the past few years and they can be viewed via the links shown below.

.Today Edith also learned that her application for funding commensurate with her NRF rating has been successful. The funding award is for five years. Clearly the NRF has confidence in Edit\'s potential despite her being in her retirement. This is as it should be, and it is. To me personally it simply confirms that the NRF has been far better at recognising talent than UKZN has been at attracting and retaining good staff.

Fern Hill left fern frond E-mail address
[email protected]
   Facebook facebook icon      google plus icon Google+ My Home Page icon Fern Hill right fern frond