Supervising supervisors

Many postgraduate students have difficulties with the supervision they receive, judging by the emails I received in response to my article in last month’s Getting Ahead.

These difficulties include supervisors delaying or halting students’ progress by failing to keep appointments and by providing inconsistent or even demoralising feedback. One student suggested that supervisors, and universities themselves, should be held accountable for the quality of supervision.

In the 1990s a number of postgraduate students in the United Kingdom successfully sued their universities for failing to provide adequate research supervision. There has been at least one such case in South Africa, as far as I am aware. Surely it should not get to the point where a student feels that his or her only recourse is through the courts? Universities should have internal structures and systems to ensure that supervisors are held accountable.

When a supervisor is uninterested or unprofessional, this often reflects a larger institutional culture that does not adequately meet the needs of postgraduate students. Such a culture is usually manifested in other ways as well, such as a lack of adequate academic development and support systems.

The adverse effects of institutional cultures such as these are often exacerbated by the lack of transformation at many South African universities. As one student wrote, his experiences have led him to conclude that his university does not care about “students whose names are too long to pronounce”.

We make it make sense

If this story helped you navigate your world, subscribe to the M&G today for just R30 for the first three months

Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.”

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Latest stories

Seventeen people found dead in East London nightclub

At least 17 young people were found dead at a nightclub in a township in the southern city of East London on Sunday, police said

Gauteng ANC produces solid financials, feather in treasurer Parks Tau’s...

The provincial administration has, however, struggled to pay staff salaries

Rwanda refugees fear extradition from Mozambique

Mozambique and Rwanda’s new deal comes after 19 people ‘agreed’ to return home

Zandile Tshabalala exhibits for the first time in SA with...

Pandering to the art world is no longer a prerequisite for success. Zandile Tshabalala has proved this in the last two years by exhibiting abroad before coming home
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×