The establishment of a Postgraduate Centre was approved by University management and became operational in 2010. The Centre will coordinate, extend and enhance the postgraduate support systems, assist the university in attracting, training and delivering quality postgraduate students, help increase the numbers of students at Master’s and Doctoral level and improve throughput. Forming part of the research division at the university, the Postgraduate Centre is an exciting new initiative which aims to promote fundamental scholarship, sound intellectual engagement and the development of a new generation of scholars.
Dr Shireen Motala, newly appointed Director, said “the University has been at the forefront of strengthening research and scholarship in all its aspects in the last five years. The Centre will contribute to promoting an enabling environment to achieving these goals.”
Postgraduate students often need support in areas such as the preparation of a research proposal, applying or funding, project management, planning and managing budgets, research design, research methodology, reportwriting, participation in public debate, statistical analysis, and scientific writing. It will provide a hub for inter-faculty and inter-disciplinary research engagement and hold seminars to promote public intellectual engagement on creating a knowledge-based economy.
The Centre, which is located on the Auckland Park Kingsway Campus, has a staff of six and a state-of-the-art computer centre for postgraduate students.
There are three structural functional areas, namely: funding support, information services, and research development. The funding area is responsible for the administration of all centrally managed postgraduate and postdoctoral opportunities. As an indication of anticipated demand, during 2009, the University processed approximately 2,900 applications and over 1,000 allocations to students from a budget of over R20 million. The budget is a combination of internal and external funding, sources of the latter including the NRF, the Mandela-Rhodes Foundation, the CSIR, CANSA and UK Commonwealth schemes. The information service function acts as a call centre, with a person on duty at reception for a reasonable part of the day to provide both academic and non-academic information regarding postgraduate studies at UJ. Some of its key activities include:
In the year under review, UJ also conducted a postgraduate student experience survey of all Master’s and Doctoral students who had registered or completed their studies in 2005 to 2009. The findings have been used to inform the postgraduate mandate and have highlighted certain areas that require improvement.