College of College of Graduate Studies

Intensifying a pathway to postgraduate research success

As part of the Open Distance and e-Learning Virtual Conference, taking place from 4 to 6 August 2021, Unisa’s College of Graduate Studies (CGS), together with the institution’s National Student Representative Council (NSRC), presented a pre-conference Research and Innovation Postgraduate Student Showcase and Virtual Awards Ceremony on 2 and 3 August 2021.

The theme for the ceremony was "Transformative research in the advent of global crises", with one of the aims being to create awareness about early research development to help postgraduate students become effective researchers.

Prof Tennyson Mgutshini, Director: School of Transdisciplinary Research and Graduate Studies, CGS

In his opening and welcome address on the second day of the ceremony, Prof Tennyson Mgutshini, Director: School of Transdisciplinary Research and Graduate Studies (CGS), said the awards bear testimony to the potential that the university foresees in the work of its postgraduate students. He added: "They speak volumes of Unisa’s commitment that students do not just do research that is of interest to them, but that the university is proactive in developing individuals that will contribute to society."

Research that innovates

Lauding the research contributions that the students submitted, Mgutshini expressed his appreciation of how they address current societal challenges. "The awards are an encouragement to use your research to innovate in ways that will change society," he said. "Whether or not we acknowledge you through an award, the fact that you took part in disseminating your thoughts makes you a winner."

On behalf of the NSRC, its secretary-general, Shatadi Phoshoko, remarked that through research, the university can contribute to the knowledge and development of society and students. "Research forms a fundamental part of advancing and responding to the ground realities of our society," she added. "It should address challenges faced by the society, especially the dispossessed and black people, and provide Afrocentric solutions."

Local is lekker

Phoshoko urged fellow students to localise their thinking. She said: "The traditional design of our curriculum limits our critical thinking, making us mere memorisers." For Phoshoko, research provides an alternative and a free way of thinking and imagining the society from a more innovative and creative lens. "We should see research as one of the pathways to redesign and reimagine society," she stated.

Some of the Research and Innovation Postgraduate Student Showcase winners (from left): Anelien Venter (Arts and Humanities), Ayanda Nyalela (Natural and Physical Sciences) and Ashira Baller (Social Sciences)

The award process was facilitated by Prof Khanyisile Mbatha, Director: School of Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Studies: CGS. Mbatha said that the fourth industrial revolution made the event possible, and lauded the adjudicators for the diligent work done in training and adjudicating the postgraduate students in their work. She reminded the students of the importance of networking and said that it can provide insight at different levels and fields. "Networking can further expose you to opportunities that you might have missed," she said.

The awards focused on the Arts and Humanities, Natural and Physical Sciences, and Social Sciences. Representatives of the three disciplines made brief presentations on what the adjudication process entailed. The list of the runners-up and winners can be accessed here.

In her closing remarks, Prof Memme Makua, Head: Quality Assurance and Enhancement: CGS, thanked the stakeholders who had made the event a success. She acknowledged the great work put into the research contributions by students, and encouraged the winners to showcase their talent and teach other students how to present their work.

* By Nancy Legodi, Acting Journalist, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2021/08/05