The Institute for Rural Development (IRD) at the University of Venda (UNIVEN) recently hosted a Microsoft Teams-based workshop for students pursuing Masters and PhD degrees in rural development. Every year, the IRD organises such a workshop mainly to welcome new Masters and PhD students and orientate them on how postgraduate studies are managed and coordinated. With such soft landing, it is envisaged that high levels of performance would be sustained and ultimately lead to completion of degrees within stipulated time frames. 

Prof Nosisi Feza, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Post Graduate Studies

In her welcome address Prof Nosisi Feza, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research, Innovation and Post Graduate Studies, thanked the students for choosing UNIVEN as an institution of their choice. She said the importance of the workshop should not be lost because “as students pursuing higher degrees you are coming together to assist each other and redefine, zoom in and share some of the things that others have done in their previous research projects”. She further advised that when doing research at Masters and Doctoral levels it is crucial to be committed to the work – “take responsibility of your own projects. Be accountable to your project. Be eager to reach your goals by finishing what you have started. You need to finish your research projects on time, set yourself a target of when you plan to complete your research project”. Prof Feza concluded her speech by advising the students to learn from each other. 

Executive Dean: Faculty of Science, Engineering and Agriculture Prof Ntebogeng Mokgalaka-Fleischmann also addressed the students. She emphasised the need for demonstrating high levels of integrity, reinforcing Prof Feza’s advise of being “accountable for what you do”. She explained that failure to complete studies within set timeframes means that they would require extra funding for tuition fees. In addition, she explained that “Taking longer time to complete your studies disadvantages those who also need space to enrol for the same programme that you are doing.” She went on to present the University strategic thrusts, vision, mission and institutional values. 

Soon after Prof Mokgalaka, Prof Joseph Francis who is the Director of Institute for Rural Development highlighted that generating scholarly outputs lies at the centre of what was expected from the students. “We are confident that this would enhance our profile in offering Masters and Doctoral studies in rural development, ultimately confirming that our vision, namely, to be a leading university-based player in combating rural poverty and underdevelopment, is not misplaced.” Prof Francis continued to spell out that “This workshop is the first in a series of inter-related ones scheduled for this year as indicated in our Postgraduate Studies Action Plan for 2021.” 

The facilitator of the programme for the day, Dr Marizvikuru Manjoro, restated and reaffirmed that the IRD sought to produce locally relevant and internationally competitive graduates, in line with UNIVEN’s topmost aspiration. She revealed that the workshop was one of many ways that the IRD has in place to make sure that graduates are equipped with relevant skills. “Thus, we strive to equip students with relevant skills that enable you to complete research proposals and theses/dissertations within set timeframes”, Dr Manjoro clarified. 

Mr Dzivhuluwani Mugari, the Chairperson of the Postgraduate Studies Committee, in the Student Representative Council

Mr Dzivhuluwani Mugari, the Chairperson of the Postgraduate Studies Committee, in the Student Representative Council also addressed the students. He revealed that his office is always available to assist. Among other things, Mr Mugari spoke about available organisations and institutions that fund postgraduate studies. He advised those without funding to apply in time, seeking assistance all the time. 

In the subsequent days of the workshop, students were addressed by various persons representing a range of departments both within and out of the UNIVEN campus. The following topics and practical sessions were covered during the workshop: 

❖ The IRD Postgraduate Studies Action Plan, 2021 by Prof J. Francis; 

❖ IT Services at your disposal by Mr N. Ratshitanga; 

❖ UNIVEN Research and Innovation Directorate: policies and opportunities by Dr S. Sekhula, Research and Innovation Directorate; 

❖ Nexus between Community Engagement and postgraduate studies by Prof V.O. Netshandama; 

❖ Effective supervision, student-supervisor or promoter relationship by Prof J.R. Gumbo, Department of Hydrology and Water Resources; 

❖ The student-supervisor contract (Prof J. Francis); 

❖ Services offered by the International Relations Directorate by Dr O.S. Obadire, Acting Director of International Relations; 

❖ The scientific research process by Dr J. Zuwarimwe, Senior Lecturer IRD); 

❖ Securing ethical clearance for research at UNIVEN by Ms V. Khosa, Research and Innovation Directorate; 

❖ Science engagement, encompassing communication, creating awareness, literacy and outreach by Dr M. Manjoro; 

❖ Statistics and research support services from Statistics South Africa by Mr S. Nemauluma, Vhembe District Manager, Statistics South Africa; 

❖ Citing Literature in scientific writing by Prof J. Francis; 

❖ Purpose and overview of searching and use of library resources for scientific writing by Dr T.A. Matodzi, Head Reference Services, Library; 

❖ Training in use of Library Resources by Dr T.A. Matodzi; 

❖ Anti-plagiarism policy and use of Turn-it-in software by Mr A. Ndou, UNIVEN Library; 

❖ Reviewing Literature: What, why & how? by Mr P. Munyanduki, PhD in Rural Development candidate; and 

❖ Introduction and application of Atlas in literature review by Dr T.A. Matodzi and Mr R. Chidembo, PhD in Rural Development candidate. 

Issued by: 

Department of Marketing, Branding & Communication 

University of Venda 
Tel: (015) 962 8525 /8710 
Date: 06 August 2021 

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