Postgraduate studies and research at the University of Pretoria, South Africa
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Postgraduate studies and research at the University of Pretoria, South Africa

“Scientific research is one of the most exciting and rewarding of occupations.” – Frederick Sanger

The University of Pretoria (UP) is a preeminent research university set in the heart of South Africa. As one of the largest and most influential research-based institutions in the country, UP has held the title of producing the highest research output in the nation since 1996.

“As a leading research-intensive university, the University of Pretoria is proud of its academic excellence and to the contributions of its researchers to finding solutions to local and global challenges,” says Professor Cheryl de la Ray, Vice Chancellor and Principal of the university.

With research programmes that span the monitoring of water quality to ensure that access to clean water really is a constitutional human right; to the RhODIS Rhino DNA barcoding programme that seeks to preserve the 29,000 rhinos we now have left in the wild; to the Food Security programme that aims to provide homegrown solutions for the millions of South Africans who go hungry every day; even to the Pine Tree Pest Biocontrol programme that strives to conserve our forests; the impact of UP’s ground-breaking studies are clear and all-encompassing.

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UP does its utmost to focus its research on areas of critical importance in the world’s developing nations – especially those in Africa and in the global South. Through projects such as these, the university hopes to increase the impact and international visibility of research at UP, and to concentrate resources to where the greatest impact can be leveraged.

For more than four years, UP has sought to hone its resources into a selective number of institutional and faculty research themes. The university boasts a number of Research Institutes, Units and Centres of Excellence, as well as Industry Chairs in a wide range of areas of research excellence.

As an institution that fully understands the importance of such foundations within the context of higher education, UP is able to consolidate academic expertise and establish a critical mass, which in turn presents exceptional research and postgraduate training opportunities for students in these programmes.

Some of these world-class programmes are housed in the following faculties:

Economic and Management Sciences, Education, Engineering, Built Environment and IT, Health Sciences, Humanities, Law, Natural and Agricultural Sciences, Theology, Veterinary Science, and the Gordon Institute of Business Science. It’s easy to see how UP’s far-reaching postgraduate and research portfolio inspires students to become real agents of change, no matter where their interests may lie.

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UP 2025, the university’s long-term strategic plan, places its research practices at the very core, constantly striving to achieve increasing levels of relevance on top of global impact. In order to achieve this feat, UP has placed heavy emphasis on multidisciplinary and collaborative work across both fields of knowledge and geographic boundaries.

The institution’s collaborative partnerships with research groups, universities and institutions primarily based in Africa are deemed invaluable to the UP community. While its faculties and research entities continue to prioritise research that benefits the continent, it’s believed that the brand-new Future Africa campus – a dynamic living, learning and research environment specifically-tailored to the needs of UP scholars – will soon become a place where Africa’s leading scientists will combine to reap the benefits of transdisciplinary research.

“The university takes great pride in research output and quality of our researchers, the A-rated scientists and established researchers, to the emerging young talent who, taken together, make up UP’s research community,” notes the university’s Research Matters site.

“Researcher achievements are annually recognised in the Academic Achievement Awards, and showcased in a Research Review that illustrates the scale of research undertaken at UP,” the statement continues, “contributing to a research environment in which scientists are supported by the facilities and services offered, for example by the Department of Research and Innovation Support (DRIS) and the Libraries…”

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Since 2011, the total number of international students enrolled at UP has increased by 13 percent, a growth that’s partly down to the university’s status as a member of no less than 20 high-impact global associations and networks. Ultimately, UP’s international profile rests on four fundamental pillars: participation in international higher education associations; international students studying at UP; active international partnerships; and publications co-authored with scholars from beyond the South African borders.

Since UP continues to excel in all four of these regions, it’s easy to see how Pretoria’s cutting-edge postgraduate and research environment has, and will continue to attract top talent from all four corners of the globe.

“If you are an independent thinker who is eager to discover and create new knowledge that will help make a difference in your community and in the world, then UP is a place where you can excel,” Professor de la Ray concludes.

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All images courtesy of the University of Pretoria

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