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If you are affiliated with a university, research institute, or research capacity building programme, you will be familiar with many of the problems that beginning researchers, including postgraduate students, face. You will also understand the problems that supervisors face, both in terms of the lack of preparedness of students, and all too often with regard to limited training in how to most effectively assist their students.

Though the statistics vary by university, they are far too low to meet South Africa's developmental needs and stated goals.

South Africa has (very sensibly) decided to pursue the route of a knowledge economy and in order to meet that challenge we need far more postgraduates than we are currently producing. We need to transform our universities, raise graduation rates, and use our limited resources carefully without compromising the quality of the researchers we produce.

The government, in an attempt to increase the number of graduates, is emphasising completion grants over enrolment subsidies. The completion grants are large sums of money and, as the statistics show, largely unclaimed.

It is possible to raise graduation rates substantially while simultaneously shortening average time-to-completion. To do so requires that both supervisors and students be confident about what needs to be done and how to do it. That comes down to practical and results-oriented training.

Proper training of postgraduates and supervisors is good for the reputation of the institution, the morale of students, and lightens the load of supervisors considerably. Given the relatively low investment that training requires and the amount of government subsidies, it also makes extremely good business sense.

Various models, including customised ongoing training or shorter interventions are possible. If you are interested in discussing how your institution or program can increase graduations rates or address a backlog of ABD (All But Dissertation) students, or otherwise increase the quality of your postgraduate program, please contact me.


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