College of College of Graduate Studies

Fresh produce to accelerate postgrad support

Prof Tennyson Mgutshini

September 1st marks the start of spring in South Africa, a season where flowers bloom and it’s easy to find fresh produce for nourishment.

Some fresh produce to have joined the College of Graduate Studies (CGS) on 1 September 2020 is Prof Tennyson Mgutshini as Acting Director in the School of Transdisciplinary Research and Graduate Studies (STRGS) .

He is a multi-disciplinary scholar with expertise, educational qualifications and publications across a range of areas that include public health, social sciences, educational management and business. His wealth of knowledge and skills will be directed towards empowering thousands of Unisa master’s and doctoral students to blossom into successful qualified professionals.

Hails with vast experience

Mgutshini has worked with some of the world’s leading universities in Africa, Europe and North America. A career shaping highlight is his extensive work on pioneering online programmes over ten years at the Open University in the United Kingdom (UK) - the world’s premier open distance learning institution. He was also part of the Indiana State University team, which developed the first online practice-based doctorate course in the United States of America (USA).

The holder of a doctorate in public health with specialisation in communicable diseases, Mgutshini has studied at some of the world’s leading universities, including Brunel University (UK), The Imperial College (UK) and Indiana University (USA).

"I have worked in a range of areas promoting the use of research as a basis for the promotion of social entrepreneurship among postgraduate students and have provided expertise in the development of research programmes across many universities in South Africa and globally," said Mgutshini.

He has wide-spread experience in programme and contract research, master’s and doctoral support, as a developer and facilitator on numerous research-capacity building programmes in the USA, UK and South Africa. Mgutshini has done so as a much sought after independent consultant providing support to universities, private industry and municipalities.

His research expertise is in qualitative, mixed-methods and quantitative research methodologies. He has extensive experience in research and development, public health, health promotion, behaviour modification, policy development, and analysis and migration work gained over the course of managing no less than 42 successful research and development projects for a wide range of agencies globally.

Vision insight for students

Mgutshini’s role as a director includes having a managerial oversight of the school, to plan, direct and provide supervision for the conceptualisation and implementation of a wide range of postgraduate research support activities, research programmes, and general administration in alignment with the institution’s open, distance and e-learning (ODeL) 2016-2030 strategy.

"CGS is under the leadership of a consummate scholar, Prof Lindiwe Zungu, whose commitment to excellence has reshaped the college and, in turn, the school’s vision. I hold a similar vision for the school and believe that it has seminal influence in guiding the university into pole position as the country’s premier provider of gold standard postgraduate offerings. I have a significant track record that should hold the current priority in good stead," says Mgutshini.

Online Accelerated Postgraduate Support Programme

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on South Africa’s higher education institutions has forced Unisa to rethink its traditional approach to postgraduate studies. Mgutshini has been tasked to lead a newly initiated Online Accelerated Postgraduate Support Programme.

"The impact of the pandemic regulations has compelled us to engage in an aggressive overhaul of postgraduate research support. Postgraduate students now need to be immersed in a comprehensive online support programme that has reconceptualised the tenets of human involvement needs so that it is universally reconceptualised with Covid-19 risks at the centre of methodological choices," says Mgutshini.

This has brought to the fore an emphasis on innovative online teaching options for developing skills needed for postgraduate students. It is within this context that CGS initiated the Accelerated Online Postgraduate Research Support Programme.

As the project leader of the programme, Mgutshini had the following to say about its offerings and how postgraduate students can join:

What is the CGS Online Accelerated Postgraduate Support Programme?

This accelerated postgraduate programme is a ground-breaking intensive online programme aimed at all Unisa postgraduate students. The programme focuses on developing academic integrity, proposal writing skills, thesis / dissertation writing skills, academic writing and writing for publication skills, grant writing skills and entrepreneurial development. The programme has separate streams for master’s, doctoral, proposal and thesis-development phase students across all the disciplines offered at Unisa. In addition to addressing research in the current Covid-19 context, this project also provides postgraduate students with additional training on social distancing methodology development practices, which is directly aligned to Unisa’s strategic imperative of enhancing research on the African continent and globally.

How can students participate in the programme?

This programme embraces the social justice mandate of the university without excuse - each of the project modules are open to all Unisa master’s and doctoral students who are at the relevant level of study. Students need to register on the CGS website for admission. In addition, each of the colleges has the added facility of being able to identify students with higher learner support needs and refer them for smaller group support and guidance.

* By Mpho Moloele, PR and Communications Assistant, Department of Research, Innovation and Commercialisation

Publish date: 2020/10/07