Doctoral production in South Africa: statistics, challenges and responses
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The past few years have witnessed new interest in doctoral production in South Africa. In the first section of the article, it is argued that this new interest has its roots in various higher education policy documents over the past decade. The second part of the article presents some of the most recent statistics on various aspects of doctoral production: trends in enrolments and graduations, completion and attrition rates as well as the supervisory capacity in the system. In the final section it is argued that the policy discourse, together with the analysis of the statistical data, gave rise to four challenges. These are the goals to expand the volume of doctoral graduates being produced as well as the supervisory capacity in the system and the demands to improve the efficiency and quality of doctoral production. In the ensuing discussion of these challenges, it is argued that various factors mitigate against the easy attainment of the first three goals. Although it remains important that these goals are pursued, it is argued that more emphasis should be afforded to considerations about the quality of doctoral training.