South African Journal of Higher Education

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The assessment of research support in a distance learning institution

FG Netswera, TR Mavundla


With technikons becoming universities of technologies, the emphasis is now on their ability to effectively offer research degrees, e.g. master's degrees and doctorates. Some of these institutions are not well developed in terms of research supervision. It is even more difficult, but also very necessary, for a distance education institution to offer such support at its regional centres. A project on postgraduate research supervision was completed, that looked at: $ The assessment of decentralised research support centres at a distance institution of higher learning $ The supervisor's perspective of the research supervision process in a distance learning institution.The findings of these two papers revealed that there is limited research expertise and limited research infrastructure at the institution's regional centres. These centres rely heavily on research expertise and infrastructure at the central campus. The research further shows that students lack research knowledge and skills, which has led to some academic departments devising research support strategies such as the development of research guides and courses, proposal development workshops, the development of research committees, promotion of co-supervision and peer evaluation, and the decentralising of research supervision. In conclusion, both these studies suggest that research support and supervision are in an embryonic stage within the institution. However, the following initiatives have been established: the development of a research support course for postgraduate learners and supervisors, the establishment of a departmental or sub-group research committee, and the realignment of procedures and policies for senate approval of research proposals.

South African Journal of Higher Education Vol.15(3) 2001: 154-161
AJOL African Journals Online