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South Africa's Science and Technology Department (DST) has failed to secure the 180 million rand (US$23.5 million) in funding needed to boost the number of research positions in the country.

The department's bid for funds to continue the South African Research Chairs Initiative (see South African initiative to boost research) was rejected, possibly due to other demands on the national treasury for priority areas.

The initiative, launched three years ago, aims to create world-class research positions at all universities to reverse the brain drain, increase research output and tackle equity issues.

The target was to have 210 chairs in place by 2010, representing an investment of close to ten billion rand in research capacity over the next 15 years. Since the launch, 70 chairs have been allocated.

The funding shortfall means that only 18 chairs will be awarded this year, bringing the total to 88 — far below the target of 140.

Sources claim that a dispute between the science and education departments about the distribution of the chairs has also contributed to problems.

The DST is currently looking at next year's budget request and plans to catch up on the initial 2010 target.

Link to full article in the Mail & Guardian Online