An investigation of MSC Agric completion times at the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
There is a pipeline of production of PhD graduates, and any blockages in the pipeline will result in delays in the country achieving the target of about a 5-fold increase in the number of PhD’s, suggested by the Department of Science in Technology in their ten year plan to drive South Africa’s transformation towards a knowledge-based economy. To increase the pool of students capable of PhD studies, the pipeline issues, such as time taken to graduate by master’s students, need to be addressed. Therefore this thesis sought to review literature associated with throughput, dropout and completion times, determine whether any of the available information from graduated MScAgric students could identify factors that promoted or impeded timeto- completion, and determine the views of supervisors of MScAgric students on their role in the supervisory process. While this thesis did not assess “quality” of MscAgric students in any way, it is acknowledged that this is sometimes in tension with time-tocompletion and that in order for students to acquire the necessary skills, especially if they are to continue with doctoral studies, time-to-completion may need to be extended. Results showed that between 2000 and 2012, 67% of full time and 56% of part time students took longer than the minimum to complete. The only variable that significantly affected time-to-completion was full time versus part time registration, where, on a full-time equivalent basis, full time students took longer. Cum Laude passes were obtained by those who had significantly higher matric score, undergraduate weighted average and final year of undergraduate weighted average, and significantly more White students passed cum laude, however they tended to take longer to complete. Supervisors views related well to the guidelines suggested by the University and supervisors appeared to acknowledge responsibility for roles allocated to them Irrespective of post level, experience in supervising MScAgric or PhD students, or whether they had attended seminars or workshops relating to supervision, supervisors viewed their roles in the process relating to the topic, the thesis and the supervisor-student relationship, in a similar way, with no differences in opinion on whether particular responsibilities within these categories were those of the student or supervisor. The exception to this was observed where lack of supervision experience resulted in differing perceptions on the role of terminating the candidature and initiation of frequent meetings, both of which could result in longer times to completion of MScAgric students.
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