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Defending the 'Public Good' in Postgraduate Studies

The debate over the role of higher education in relation to the public good overlaps with an increasing scrutiny of government funding and the state’s involvement in higher learning institutions. Having professionally skilled citizens is largely considered an essential condition to societal good, but only to the extent that they serve society. If the very costly postgraduate education is not a public good, and is simply a private benefit for those students who study at that level and go on to accrue enormous private wealth, then why should it be funded? This was the central theme of the annual Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Conference hosted by the Centre for Postgraduate Studies at Rhodes University in late July. This conference saw postgraduates engage in ‘public good’ debates about climate sustainability, socio-economic development, the fourth industrial revolution and blue-sky research. The focal point of the discussions was how postgraduate scholars view their work in the context of the societies in which they live – which takes into account (among other things) who the public is, and what constitutes ‘good’.

EPE colloquium at Royal Embassy of the Netherlands

The recent Enhancing Postgraduate Environment colloquium held at the Royal Embassy of the Netherlands in Pretoria was a celebration of this highly successful project, that has been led by Rhodes University and Vrije Universitieit, while also being an opportunity to interrogate a range of issues pertaining to postgraduate education in South Africa. The colloquium brought together representatives from all 12 institutions in this Erasmus Plus funded project, from the Netherlands, Turkey, Scotland, Germany and South Africa, along with academics, postgraduate students, and DVCs, Deans and Directors of Postgraduate sectors of universities from across the South African higher education system, the DHET, and the NRF. Representatives from Kenyan and Malawian universities also attended.

Postgraduate conference a good place for sharing knowledge

Rhodes University’s 9th Annual Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Conference was held on the 26 and 27 July 2018. The conference was opened by the Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Sizwe Mabizela, who urged those present to consider their role as critical citizens whose research should benefit society. The overarching theme of the conference was “Postgraduate Education is a Public Good ”, with the sub-themes: Environmental Sustainability, Socio-economic Development, the 4th Industrial Revolution, and Blue-Sky Research. The conference provided a platform for postgraduate students from all faculties to share their research and to enjoy conversations across disciplinary boundaries.

POSTGRAD CONFERENCE

POSTGRAD CONFERENCE 26 & 27 July Submit and abstract and register here