n South African Journal of Higher Education - The supervisor's accountability versus postgraduates' responsibility within the academic writing arena

Volume 19, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1011-3487



One of the most burning issues facing South African higher education, as stressed by the National Plan for Higher Education (Republic of South Africa Minister of Education 2001), is the success rates of postgraduates. Most of the problems experienced in postgraduate work relate to language. In South Africa this problem coexists with a host of other factors, such as students' prior schooling; exposure to certain necessary resources (e.g. electricity and libraries); literacy provision in the home and community; attitudes towards schooling; and proficiency in English. All of these are aspects that could jeopardise the success of academic writing. In order to address this as part of the human capital development of postgraduates and future academics, one needs to understand that new and more complex skills than in the past (e.g. being flexible, adaptable, quick learners, team players, critical thinkers and problem-solvers) are required. However, to transform this area should be a two-way process, which does not entail a change in pedagogy (i.e., towards professional educators), but also a change in attitudes, behaviour and the skills of learners.

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