Student Support and Development

New postgraduate students are introduced to Rhodes through a process of departmental orientation, peer orientation, a University based orientation day and special information sessions by the Library and IT Division. Postgraduate students in residence are also included in residence orientation programmes. The orientation of new students particularly foreign postgraduates has not always been as effective as it could be with some students expressing concerns about the time taken to integrate into the campus and the community. Interaction with the new International Office and Dean as well as the Postgraduate Liaison Committee (PGLC) will hopefully alleviate this and will provide ideas to improve the orientation process. The PGLC was formed in 2003 and is composed of representatives from all departments and organizes regular meetings and functions for postgraduates. It is also a sub-committee of the JRC, has representation on the JRC and interacts closely and reports though the Dean of Research.

All postgraduate students on registration are provided with a copy of the Higher Degrees Guide, a comprehensive guide to most aspects of postgraduate study at Rhodes including responsibilities of supervisors and students. The guide also contains copies of all relevant forms, contacts, etc and is regularly updated and edited. Specific workshops on aspects of the Guide are arranged either within departments or by the Dean of Research and Postgraduate Liaison Committee. These include supervision, thesis and report writing and research methodology workshops. This is an aspect of research student support which could be strengthened with additional resources to conduct more workshops and other support services. An area of increasing need for support is with writing skills particularly for second language English speakers. With increasing numbers of such students studying at Rhodes workshops on writing skills are conducted by the Academic Development Centre and there are plans to expand this service. In certain disciplines and some scholarship programmes formal mentorship schemes are in place to assist new postgraduates both academically and in a more general sense.

Additional, more project based support and development, is provided by peers, supervisors and departmental seminars and journal clubs in which opportunities are also provided for improving written and verbal presentation skills. In this regard conference presentation of research data is also encouraged and financial support for conference attendance, mainly local, can be applied for from the JRC. Almost all applications by Master's and PhD students to make presentations at local conferences are supported but there is very little opportunity for international conference presentation due to limited funding. Funding is also needed to enable new research students to attend conferences without necessarily making presentations.

Services supporting postgraduate such as the Library, IT and other infrastructure are essentially the same as those outlined under the staff section. In addition, postgraduate students have access to a dedicated computer laboratory and thesis preparation computer facility (both being interventions in the past few years arising from feedback from the Postgraduate Liaison Committee) in addition to internet connections in all residences including the Postgraduate Village. Funding is provided for Master's and Doctoral students to attend and present research papers at local conference with very limited support being available for International conference attendance other than that which may be available through their supervisors individual research grants.

Last Modified: Tue, 30 Jul 2013 15:00:24 SAST