Policy and Advocacy News
- South African Mathematical Society position on NRF statement on Incentive Funding for Rated Researchers:
The Council of the South African Mathematical Society has noted with grave concern the decision by the NRF to revise its Incentive Funding Program for researchers to such an extent that it will in future, for the vast majority of basic science researchers in South Africa, in particular for mathematicians, be virtually impossible to conduct research.
Mathematics research is relatively cheap to fund compared to other research disciplines. However, without any core funding it is not possible to conduct internationally credible and competitive research. Fundamental research in a basic science, such as Mathematics, needs to be funded by state research organizations that have long term developmental goals in mind.
A single example illustrates that the NRF decision implies an effective cessation of incentive funding: In the 6-year period 2012-2017 a B-rated researcher received R480 000 to fund his/her research, while for the 6-year period 2018-2023 it will only be a once-off amount of R30 000 (this is not a typographical error); thus, a reduction of 93.75%.
Mathematics research generally does not require large grants, unlike, for example, the experimental sciences, and also does not leverage “third party funding” from donors who seek short term returns. The current incentive funding model, where scientists who have obtained a rating under the stringent NRF rating system based on international peer-reviews of the quality and international recognition of their research, get a fixed amount of funding per year (enough for conference visits), has been vital for mathematicians. The October 2017 communique by the NRF on the revision and re-alignment of the incentive funding seems to indicate a movement towards a “fewer but larger grants” model, which is exactly the opposite of what mathematics research needs.
The NRF’s decision will cripple mathematics research in South Africa and, as a developing country, South Africa cannot afford this decision.
- Best Practice in Research: SAMS fully endorses the IMU statement on best practice in research publication, as well as the joint statement by ASSAf, CHE, DHET, NRF AND USAf on ethical research and scholarly publishing practices. These two statements are available for download below:
- SAMS Report on the current DHET research funding model:
- Professional Registration and Critical Skills visas: Please note that SAMS is not an accreditation body, but rather a voluntary professional society. According to South African law all applications for professional registration need to be processed by an approved accreditation body. Similarly supporting documentation for a critical skills visa, has to be issued by such a body. SAMS is not itself such a body, but is an affiliate of SACNASP, which is the professional body recognised by SAQA in terms of Section 13(1)(i) of the National Qualifications Framework Act, tasked with representing the interests of Natural Scientific Professionals. Hence all foreign citizens who either wish to apply for a critical skills visa, or else wish to apply for professional registration, should approach SACNASP for assistance, not SAMS. Pertinent information regarding either such registration, or visa related matters, may be found by clicking on the relevant link below.