Postgraduate Students’ Perceptions of Support Services Rendered by a Distance Learning Institution

Mapheleba Lekhetho


Postgraduate studies are generally draining for most students because of the high rigour and cognitive demands required. They are even more arduous for students in a distance-learning context as most of them are full-time employees and lack enough time for their studies. Consequently, they tend to have low success rates due to a lack of required academic and research skills, low English proficiency, and inadequate student support. Underpinned by Simpson's student support model, this research adopted a qualitative approach and a focus group technique to probe nine Ethiopian doctoral students about their perceptions of the support provided by the University of South Africa (Unisa). From a thematic analysis of the themes that recurred, the findings revealed that despite the challenges, most students appreciated the support provided, particularly by supervisors who guided them efficiently and gave them feedback promptly. To improve graduation rates, it is recommended that supervisors be trained in effective supervision and support of students from diverse linguistic and educational backgrounds.

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International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online) Email:

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