Today I finalised and submitted my NRF rating application. For those outside the loop, the National Research Foundation is a creation of the South African Government that classifies researchers between A1 (International household name) to C3 (Nice try).
I detest the system. It attempts to quantify something that does not need quantifying. It was set up for the Natural Sciences, where they are always needing more money for their test tubes and their linear accelerators, and is a bad fit for the humanities, where we need a well-stocked library and time to think.
I’ve avoided it as long as I could. But “as long as I could” has arrived. South African universities are one by one caving in to the NRF. I know at least two where you don’t get promoted beyond Senior Lecturer without a rating. Unisa has not joined their ranks yet, but the writing is on the wall. Increasingly the forms that are the bane of every professor’s life ask if you have been rated.
So, getting rated will get Unisa off my back. Even if my application is turned down, I will have three years before I can apply again, during which I can tell Unisa “Yes, I applied, didn’t I?” And if I do get rated (Yes, I’ll settle for a C3) that gives me a five-year break.
There’s a bit of money involved too, which does not hurt.