n South African Journal of Higher Education - Promotion of biotechnology amongst students by university departments in South Africa




University departments (including schools and centres) with a direct or indirect link to biotechnology were identified. Representatives at these entities were surveyed to establish what measures South African universities are undertaking to promote biotechnology amongst students. Of the 168 departments identified, 55 submitted usable questionnaires. Four broad types of initiatives were identified: (1) facilitation of funding from the National Research Foundation, (2) facilitation of relevance, (3) facilitation of biotech industry networks, and (4) facilitation of biotech industry funding. Initiatives that the departments most frequently engage in pertain to the traditional role of universities, namely to ensure public funding for students and to academically prepare undergraduate biotechnology students to successfully complete postgraduate studies. Initiatives that link students to the biotechnology sector more directly and dynamically (through various forms of university-industry interaction) are less frequently practiced. The respondents also discussed a number of additional actions that are taken by their departments to facilitate the entrance of students into the biotechnology sector, as well as insights and suggestions as to how universities can promote biotechnology amongst students. The tension between 'biotechnology as a discipline' and 'biotechnology as an interdisciplinary tool' was raised and is highlighted as a subject of concern.


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