Administrative Support for Graduate Education Success in Resource-Poor and Culturally-Challenging Environments

Administrative Support for Graduate Education Success in Resource-Poor and Culturally-Challenging Environments

Edward Andama (Busitema University, Uganda)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0264-8.ch010


For any university to become successful in producing new knowledge it must invest heavily in graduate education. The developing world has dwindling resources investment in graduate training, yet countries cannot develop without graduate programmes. The challenge is that most postgraduate students do not receive adequate support from programme administration. There are no deliberate efforts to understand the cause of high dropout or delayed completion schedule of most graduate students. Providing tailored administrative and supervision support to graduate units is vital in reducing high attrition rates. This chapter provides key challenges facing graduate education in a resource-poor and culturally challenging environment. It proposes innovative remedies on student engagement, focusing on the need to develop tailor-made programmes to support student success at graduate level. The focus is on preparing, supporting, and enabling graduate students to successfully complete their studies.
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Postgraduate or graduate study is a growth process by which students need to develop as scholars under the thoughtful support and guidance by the institution (Abiddin, 2011). Postgraduate students are regarded as mature persons who are motivated to build academic career path after their bachelor’s degree or higher education. Postgraduate education is important because it provides educational institutions opportunities to build their research capabilities, enhance academic reputations, and financial gain (Firoz et al., 2013). The primary mission for a student to join graduate education is to prepare for the next generation of professional, scholarly, and educational leaders. In order to fulfill this mission, the institutions seek to instill in each student an understanding of and capacity for scholarship, independent critical judgment, academic rigor, and intellectual honesty. Thus Higher education in general is critical to economic success and long-term development of Africa, a continent facing several challenges of growth and development on many fronts. Higher education especially at graduate level provides economic and social benefits, both to the individual and the public, produces specialized qualified human capital, adapts and generates knowledge, promotes international cooperation and this improves competitiveness in the global knowledge-based economy (Yizengaw,2008).

It is the joint responsibility of faculty and graduate students to work together to foster these capabilities through relationships that encourage freedom of inquiry, demonstrate personal and professional integrity, and foster mutual respect. High quality graduate education depends upon the professional and ethical conduct of both faculty and students. Globally, there is increasing pressure on young adults to attain post-secondary and higher levels of education (Stelnicki et al., 2015). This is due in part to the ever-increasing educational requirements for entry-level career positions and promotional opportunities (Bain,, 2011). As competition for high quality postgraduate increases, the role of administrative, student engagement, and supervisory support services become more emphasized due to the fact that most postgraduate students come from various ethnic, cultural, political, economic, linguistic and educational backgrounds and their attraction, retention and successful completion of the programme are paramount for educational institutions. This essay focuses on the challenges faced by graduate education institutions in providing support to postgraduate or graduate students to enable them to complete their studies timely and successfully.

The writing of this chapter was motivated by the author’s interaction and experience with several graduate students about the dilemma they faced on their journey of graduate education in Uganda. The stories and experiences reported from the students expressed their fear of taking longer than the scheduled time to complete their graduate studies. This presents a worrying picture of the future of graduate programme completion rates in Ugandan universities in general. As a result, many of the prospective students first search for graduate programmes to vet characteristics such as favorable completion rates, better supervision and support to the students during graduate study. Consequently, the focus turned to the question of what the institutions could do as part of their role to support, encourage and promote their students to successfully complete the graduate programs. The rich experience the author gained during time of pursuing master and doctor of philosophy trainings, and also as administrator of graduate programmes and supervisor of graduate students was helpful for writing this chapter. The focus is on Ugandan experience which would apply in most of the developing world or where support of graduate programme is still wanting.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Research Supervision: the academic guide to a student throughout the higher degree by research program and usually involves offering advice in a field of study and providing direction for your research, setting milestones and monitoring your progress, providing feedback, encouragement and support.

Student Attraction: is cultivation of an appealing organizational brand that will attract an individual or prospective students to a higher institution of choice for study. For example how academic programmes are run and quality of products can that makes people want to go to a particular academic institution.

Student Engagement: refers to the degree of attention, curiosity, interest, optimism, and passion that students show when they are learning or being taught, which extends to the level of motivation they have to learn and progress in their education.

Student Attrition: is the number of individuals who leave a programme of study before completing it. Attrition, or non-continuation rate, is a measure of the performance indicator of higher education providers.

Mobile Learning: is exploiting mobile technologies which enable learning at any place, such as CD ROM-enabled learning, and web-based teaching and learning.

Student Retention: is a process of ensuring student succeed or graduate without dropping out or withdrawing from the programme of enrollment. Student retention is important because it illustrates student success and perhaps strong academic support.

Institutional Factors: are both academic and non-academic support services that might contribute to students' academic achievement and educational quality.

Administrative Support: Means use of non-academic persons of a university or other higher education institutions for the achievement of its basic objectives such as finance, supply chain, human resources, research administration, student affairs and information technology to deliver services more efficiently and effectively to their business units.

Postgraduate or Graduate: is a student who has successfully completed an undergraduate degree level course at a college or university and is undertaking further study at a more advanced level.

Higher Education: is all organized learning and training activities at the tertiary level. . It is also called post-secondary education, third-level or tertiary education, is an optional final stage of formal learning that occurs after completion of secondary education. This includes conventional universities post-secondary institutions such as poly-technique and vocation, colleges.

Academic Motivation: is defined as desire, as reflected in approach, persistence, and level of interest regarding study of academic subjects as judged against a standard of performance or excellence.

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