Factors that influence MSc (Med) (Pharmacy) completion rates at the Medunsa Campus of the University of Limpopo, South Africa
Background. Postgraduate degrees are costly for the candidate, Government and tertiary institution. Few Master’s degree candidates complete their studies within the minimum prescribed time, while some do not finish at all. These two factors impact negatively on student finances and morale, staff workload, university funding and future student intake.
Objective. This study was conducted at the Department of Pharmacy, University of Limpopo, Medunsa Campus, Pretoria, South Africa, to establish the completion rates of Master’s degrees in pharmacy and identify the factors impacting on completion.
Method. A cohort of 100 students who enrolled in the MSc (Med) (Pharmacy) degree between 2002 and 2009 was surveyed by means of an emailed questionnaire that was returned anonymously.
Results. Women were more likely to complete their degree than men (53% v. 40%). Full-time students had the highest completion rate (100%), followed by staff (78%). Only 35.5% of part-time postgraduates and those who communicated more frequently with their supervisors received their degree. Those who completed their degree also scored higher on quality of communication with and accessibility of the supervisor. Those who did not complete their degree, scored low on their adjustment to tertiary education and ability to reach a balance between social and academic activities. Finance was also a contributing factor for 40% of those who did not complete their degree.
Conclusion. Completion rates in our degree course compare reasonably well with those in other studies. Clarity about the roles and responsibilities of supervisors and students is of the utmost importance. Being mostly present at the university plays a major role in the successful completion of a postgraduate degree. Academic internship is the optimal route to a Master’s degree in pharmacy, but if not possible close contact must be maintained between the student and university.