13 March 2020 | Story Amanda Tongha and Andre Damons | Photo Johan Roux
 UFS postgraduate welcoming
Attending the Postgraduate Welcoming were, from the left: Itumeleng Mutla, second-year master’s student; Prof Corli Witthuhn, Vice-Rector: Research, Innovation and Internationalisation; Prof Witness Mudzi, Director of the Postgraduate School; Hesma van Tonder, Chief Officer: Research Librarian; and John van Niekerk, a master’s student.

The University of the Free State prides itself on being an institution committed to excellence in postgraduate education. In 2019, the UFS boasted more than 6 900 postgraduate students enrolled for postgraduate diplomas, honours, master’s and doctoral qualifications. Of these, 77% previously enrolled at the UFS, while 23% started at the institution for the first time.

Targeting this group of students who make up 17% of the total number of degree-seeking students, the UFS Postgraduate School formally welcomed new senior students to the university on Friday 6 March. 

Postgraduate success
“It is the best time to be a senior student, and I hope it is a wonderful experience,” said Prof Corli Witthuhn, Vice-Rector: Research, Innovation and Internationalisation in her welcoming address to the more than 150 postgraduate students gathered in the Reitz Hall of the Centenary Complex. 

Giving reasons as to why Kovsie students should consider postgraduate studies, Prof Witthuhn said there are many opportunities associated with making the jump from undergraduate to postgraduate student.  

“All the data shows that postgraduate studies increase employability. It creates the opportunity to deeper engage with the field that you are interested in.”
The postgraduate journey 
r Musawenkosi Saurombe, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Industrial Psychology who became the youngest PhD holder on the African continent at age 23, was also on hand to offer advice. 

“Are you willing to see the task to completion? How badly do you want it?” she challenged postgraduate students, talking about her journey from 16-year old first-year student to 23-year-old doctoral degree holder. 

Itumeleng Mutla, who is in the second year of her master’s degree in Administration, said she found the speech by Dr Saurombe inspiring and encouraging. “I felt like a groupie and took pictures with her afterwards. We felt inspired by her story and she encouraged me in my own studies. I think I am also going to push to finish my studies earlier,” she said.

John van Niekerk, a master’s student in Education and Psychology, said Saurombe’s talk was brilliant and he would like her to give a talk to learners at Kimberley Boys High, where he is a teacher. 

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