27 September 2022 | Story Lunga Luthuli | Photo Lunga Luthuli
Prof Witness Mudzi
Prof Witness Mudzi, Director: Centre for Graduate Support, toasts the new dawn, as the centre aims to align its mandate with the University of the Free State’s goal of creating a one-stop shop for all postgraduate services.

Speaking at the Centre for Graduate Support (CGS) name launch held in the Centenary Complex on the Bloemfontein Campus, Prof Francis Petersen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS), shared the importance of being an “institution striving for continuous renewal, transformation, student support, and research excellence”.

Prof Petersen said: “These three pillars should not overshadow or compete with one another, but should complement, enhance, and strengthen one another. Part of the UFS strategy is to recruit and retain internationally recognised academics in fields representing our strengths and areas where we can contribute in a local, national, and international context.”

The centre has been known as the Postgraduate School for 10 years, and with the launch, “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”.

Prof Petersen said: “We want to appoint and nurture promising young postdoctoral scholars with established academic records to ensure that all academic staff are research active.  We also aim to increase the proportion of academic staff with PhDs and the citation impact of their research.”

The launch was held on 9 and 15 September 2022 in two legs on the Bloemfontein and Qwaqwa Campuses as the two hosts for postgraduate programmes.

By providing support to postgraduate students, Prof Petersen said the UFS wants to “enable master’s and doctoral students to graduate in the minimum acceptable time, to reduce drop rates, and to improve our throughput rates”.

He said: “The Centre for Graduate Support has a significant role to play – providing an essential part of the practical framework to turn vision and goals into reality. One of the goals over the next few years – as encapsulated in our Vision 130 working document – is to significantly increase the postgraduate to undergraduate student ratio, bringing it closer to 70/30.”

CGS to be hub for postgraduate students

Speaking at the launch, themed ‘The Evolution’, Prof Witness Mudzi, Director: Centre for Graduate Support, said the centre has become a one-stop centre for postgraduate students, covering admissions, registration, extensive training workshops, online tracking, funding, academic writing consultations, and thesis submission.

Prof Francis Petersen, UFS Rector and Vice-Chancellor.
Speaking at the name relaunch event, Prof Francis Petersen, UFS Rector and Vice-Chancellor. Photo: Stephen Collett 


Prof Mudzi said: “The centre plays a leading role in developing postgraduate-related policies within the UFS. The workshops we run are designed to supplement the efforts of faculties and departments in producing impactful students. Our research interventions are intended to improve the student and staff research outputs and their impact on society. Our support of postgraduate student conference attendance is meant to enhance the visibility of the University of the Free State.”

The new dawn will also be “an opportunity for conference attendance by PhD students, allowing academic staff who are busy with a PhD to take time off to concentrate on their studies, while the CGS funds a replacement staff member for up to six months, as well as marketing and communication strategies related to postgraduate studies and research”.

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