In its application (dated 22 September 2008) for a HOPE Project award of Stellenbosch University, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences proposed the establishment of the Graduate School in order to:
- Develop Stellenbosch University as an international centre of excellence by enhancing the visibility and effectiveness of doctoral study and research at the University
- Attract outstanding postgraduate students – applications will be solicited from South African students and students from participating African partner universities
- Contribute to the development of higher education in Africa
- Create opportunity for leading interdisciplinary research
- Create the possibility of joint degrees.
Under the HOPE Project, seed funding was awarded to the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences on 22 November 2008 for a flagship project to promote doctoral output and the Faculty's academic footprint in Africa. The Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences was formally established in 2010 and mandated to function as the co‐ordinating organisational structure for the provision of academic, administrative and financial support to advanced graduate study and research in the Faculty.
Rationale for the establishment of the Graduate School
With Africa's contribution to world science on the decline and escalating numbers of postgraduate students choosing to further their education and careers overseas, the time has come to strengthen the capacity of Africa to generate new knowledge.
Since 1987, Africa has lost 11% of its share in world science, with sub-Saharan Africa's share decreasing by 31%. The continent's research output now amounts to only 2% of the global total. This while the continent is home to one in every seven persons on the planet. In the next decade or two, without serious interventions this situation is bound to deteriorate even further, while enrolment figures are set to double; with no systematic efforts in sight to address the ailing infrastructure of African higher education or critical lack of trained academics. At the same time, the global economic system is ostensibly becoming more integrated and driven by new knowledge and innovation. For individuals as well as nations, future prosperity will in all likelihood be determined by their ability to participate in and benefit from higher education and research.
Through the establishment of the Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences, we aim to stem the brain drain from Africa and to reverse the decline of science and scholarship in African higher education. Furthermore, we have developed a comprehensive and concerted set of measures to address the critical current and future shortages of trained academics in South Africa and the continent at large.