Boosting the growth of a new generation of


A little healthy competition between siblings can go a long way in motivating them to study and forge a possible career path.


Just ask Prof Victor Tshivhase, director at NWU’s Centre for Applied Radiation Science and Technology or CARST as it’s simply referred to.

He recalls how he and his brother often challenged each other, each claiming how “simple” mathematics was.

It is through this motivation and competition between the two that Victor, from humble beginnings at Limpopo’s rural Khalavha village, can now lay claim to being the first black South African to have received a PhD in nuclear physics at a South African university back in 1997.

His CV is awash with details about his rise to his current role as CARST director, but it is his vision to “fill the gap” in training nuclear scientists in this country that lies closest to his heart.

Producing the cream of the crop

He believes that the CARST mandate of developing capacity in the nuclear industry has largely been met, but even more trained graduates are needed, especially from the designated groups.

“We at CARST have done well. Even the current chairperson of the NWU Council, Dr Bismark Tyobeka, is a product of the CARST programme,” he says.

Late last year, Bismark – who is also the CEO of South Africa’s National Nuclear Regulator – delivered a series of lectures at universities, including the NWU. This was part of the 20th anniversary celebrations of the National Nuclear Regulator Act.

Ready for the future

Victor is excited about the recent approval for the erection of offices and a lecture block at CARST. This, he believes, will go a long way towards producing well-trained professionals for the nuclear industry.

CARST started offering a PhD programme in 2019 and a robust external programme review process recently found that the BScHons in applied radiation science meets the minimum standards.

Students registering at CARST may normally join the programme provided they have a BSc degree in chemistry, mathematics or physics.

Victor is confident that this new generation of nuclear professionals will be better suited to address the many problems affecting ordinary residents in South Africa, such as underground water radiological contamination and mine dumps.

On the computer screen you can see an example of the software used to assist lecturers and students. Here education technologists Fundiswa Ngomani, Naldo Oberholzer and Letshego Mabale are discussing some of the features on the eFundi site.