University of the Free State: CGS relaunches with a focus on improving postgraduate support

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Launching its new name on 9 September 2022, the Centre for Graduate Support (CGS) – established in 2011 – aims to align its mandate with the University of the Free State’s goal of creating a one-stop shop for all postgraduate services by expanding the centre’s services.

Previously known as the Postgraduate School, Prof Witness Mudzi, Director: Centre for Graduate Support, believes the new name “better fits the services offered by the CGS in guiding postgraduate students on their journey and helping them develop holistically”.

Prof Mudzi said: “In addition to the Funding, Research Capacity Development, Academic Writing, Student Tracking, and Staff Study Support services offered under the former Postgraduate School, we now have Postgraduate Applications, Admissions and Enrolments, and Theses Submissions being added to the CGS portfolio.”

Learning from the past to shape the future

The launch will also introduce staff and this year’s 5 863 registered postgraduate students to the CGS’s existing and new services, emphasising the importance of postgraduate student support in realising the goal of improving postgraduate throughput rates, completion time, and reducing dropout rates.

Prof Mudzi believes the CGS’ success is due to “the hard work and dedication of the staff, and the willingness of other support departments to collaborate, such as Student Academic Services, Student Recruitment Services, Information and Communication Technology, and the Office for International Affairs, also played a significant role”.

“In 2020, the centre was able to administer internal UFS funding and outside funding from agencies such as the National Research Foundation for honours, research master’s, and doctoral students. For the first time this year, the centre supported postgraduate diploma and structured master’s students with tuition fee funding,” said Prof Mudzi.

To positively impact graduation rates, the centre is also piloting a project this year to support master’s and doctoral students with funding for conference attendance and research.

Prof Mudzi said: “The Academic Writing programme is also picking up, with more consultants being trained to assist our postgraduate students. We have successfully applied for a short learning programme (SLP) focusing on postgraduate academic writing, and more SLPs are in the pipeline for 2023. The centre has finalised the Graduate Research Management Title Registration business process development, which is in the testing stage.” This, together with Progress Reporting and the associated reporting tools, will be fully functional before the end of the year.

The centre’s clear strategic goals and the willingness of the various CGS portfolios to align their activities with these goals and with those of the university were also crucial in this endeavour.

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