Inherent success characteristics of postgraduate students at rural-based higher learning institutions

  • I.O. Iwara
  • M Mwale
  • O.S. Obadire
Keywords: Characteristics, higher learning, postgraduates, research, success


Despite numerous supports from the South African government to enhance postgraduate output in historically disadvantaged universities, very few students succeed. It is not clear what could be causing the attrition in view of access to equal learning opportunities. This paper distilled traits inherent in successful postgraduates at the University of Venda with the aim of suggesting such attributes to potential postgraduate students. The study is qualitative in nature where snowball sampling technique was used to identify 75 participants (47 Honours, 22 Masters & 6 PhD) who graduated on record time in 2017. A semi-structured questionnaire was used to collect data which was analyzed using Atlas-ti software version 8. The success attributes that emerged were categorized into three major contexts relating to supervisory, school management, and personal standards. While most students maintained a healthy relationship with their supervisors which goes beyond professional, a clear majority established to set goals and followed them religiously. They worked ahead of their action plans and viewed every academic engagement as a learning curve. Some started the process of utilizing research grants on time while others forfeited their grants due to stringent management policies. The study recommends further investigation to understand the extent to which the current postgraduate students have taken advantage of the underlined success factors.

Keywords: Characteristics, higher learning, postgraduates, research, success


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eISSN: 1596-9231