College of Graduate Studies

A beacon of hope for Unisa M&Ds

While many have been speaking about the principles of open distance learning (ODL) - openness, flexibility and student-centredness - for the past six years, the Unisa College of Graduate Studies (CGS) has been assiduously putting these into practice for master’s and doctoral (M&D) students based in Ethiopia. The college coordinates a research development programme that is facilitated by expert academics from various colleges, who provide (1) guidance for completing a thesis proposal to a cohort of newly admitted M&D students, and, (2) consultation for completing the actual thesis for those students in "thesis phase".

Graduation numbers of Unisa students based in Ethiopia point to a notable return on investment: 59 doctorates in 2018 alone!

Recently, the programme presented the first of its modules for the 2019 academic year. During the week of 13 to 17 May 2019, a cohort of about 100 newly admitted M&D students came to Addis Ababa for the week-long Module One. Each morning, the participants attended plenary sessions, where academics presented topics pertinent to the proposal complexion stage. Such topics included the components of a thesis proposal, the scientific research process, the concept of doctorateness, knowing the scientific community, literature review, research methodologies in social and natural sciences, conceptual frameworks, library training, statistics and SPSS, as well as academic writing.


Each plenary session provided room for practical and interactive application of the concepts taught. The afternoons were dedicated to systematic and hands-on library training, subject-related group discussions and individual consultations. The interactive sessions allowed for immediate feedback from peers and facilitators. Furthermore, in a bid to make the most of the time in Ethiopia, academics also made time to consult with post-proposal students on issues such as ethical clearance, methodology, academic writing and other related matters.

This programme has provided a beacon of hope for students and graduation numbers of Unisa students based in Ethiopia point to a notable return on investment. The academics’ unwavering dedication and remarkable expertise demonstrate, once again, why we are the African university shaping futures in the service of humanity.

* By Tsige Aberra, Director, Ethiopia Regional Learning Centre

Publish date: 2019/06/11