Administering postgraduate education for success: the necessity for postgraduate orientation

Chux Gervase Iwu, Tichaona Buzy Musikavanhu, Hector Ukandu, Maurice Dassah


The call by the government of South Africa for an improved postgraduate throughput and pass rate is yet to meet with commensurate attention from researchers. To date, not much empirical studies have been undertaken in this regard. This knowledge gap is dire especially in light of the essential role of postgraduate education in national government’s strategy for improved employment statistics and of the emphasis on access to much more meaningful work. Postgraduate education is commonly perceived to be a lonely journey because students are considered mature at the level of postgraduate studies. Despite the assumption that postgraduate students have somewhat mastered the art of academic writing, they confront certain challenges associated with postgraduate study. In South Africa, postgraduate students have often complained about lack of guidance regarding administrative processes and procedures associated with research. One of the approaches to clarifying the roles and responsibilities of the postgraduate student is orientation. Specifically, with respect to postgraduate research, orientation programmes offer students the opportunity to familiarise themselves with administrative procedures regarding research ethics, data collection, submission of chapters, analysis of data and writing up the research report. Data for this study was collected during a two-day orientation programme at a South African university of technology. The faculty of business and management sciences organised the two-day event so that the faculty’s new postgraduate students could be made aware of the steps they are required to follow during their studies. The results suggest an overwhelming approval of postgraduate orientation. This paper provides an ideal opportunity to further examine poor postgraduate throughput and pass rates in South African universities but, more importantly, it is hoped that the paper advances new ways of looking at the management and administration of postgraduate students as well as postgraduate orientation at higher education institutions.


Postgraduate education; postgraduate supervision; throughput rate; pass rate; academic success; South Africa; postgraduate orientation

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