‘Why postgraduate students spend more years on Campus’

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A PhD student at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, who preferred anonymity said most post graduate students in public universities reportedly spend more time than usual to complete their programmes principally due to thesis delay. Many doctoral students are said to have spent between five and 10 years on their individual thesis while others were frustrated and forced to abandon their programmes, he said.
He said he got his PhD admission into ABU in 2007 but got a chance to finish his final project defence 10 years after, saying his experience was horrible.
“It is needless to say that I have had a bad time. It is a programme that I supposed to finish within three years, but as you can see it took me ten years and for all these years one was seriously struggling and spending a lot of money,” he said.
The former chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), ABU chapter, Professor Kabir Muhammad, admitted that students undergoing postgraduate programmes at the university usually exceed their “residency period”.
He attributed the problem to many factors. One of these is supervisors who usually take months to read and return students’ works.
“Another problem is the students. Some would just register for a programme and abscond. You would not see them until after many years and when they come back, they would start blackmailing the supervisors, telling people that it is the supervisors that are delaying them. However, I know that things are improving because the university and the postgraduate school have introduced many measures to ensure that students graduate on time.
“One of the measures is the introduction of logbook where the students and the supervisors would be signing, showing the progress they are making. The postgraduate school also deregisters students who abscond or those that overstay their tenure. However, the best way to address this problem is for the departments to be up and doing by effectively monitoring the students and the supervisors. When I was the head of Archaeology department, we tried this and it worked,” he said.
The Vice Chancellor of the university, Professor Ibrahim Garba, said no postgraduate student would again have such bad experience of spending ten years in a three-year programme, because of the reforms being implemented.
“This would be no more in this university; to be honest with you. The system has improved where we track the progress of every student. There are avenues where students can complain. However, it takes two to tango. You don’t assume that because you register as postgraduate student, it becomes automatic for you to graduate. One must work hard. You can’t sit at the comfort of your office or room and expect to become a PhD holder.
“Postgraduate programme is very expensive. Some students don’t have money; they have to break from the programme for a long time. Some students do not have the talent to achieve postgraduate degrees. Nonetheless, we would remain vigilant, because postgraduate studies are key to us.”
Dr. Fabian Benjamin who recently bagged a PhD from University of Abuja said the challenges of post graduate studies come in different dimensions; partly from supervisors and partly from the students.
He said for postgraduate student, the most important thing is the research work, but that most candidates finish the course work on time but hardly complete research because they get frustrated before the end of the programme.
Dr Benjamin said it took him seven years to obtain his PhD for a programme that was supposed to last for three years. He said some students abandon their programmes because they get tired and frustrated in the research process.
“Also, you will be given a supervisor that does not have time for you at all and once he gives you appointment, once or twice and you can’t meet up, frustrations begins to set in and if you don’t have enough resources you may not continue,” he explained.
He said some universities have not got enough resources to mobilize external examiners adding, “it gets so bad that these days, students are made to contribute money for the accommodation and transport of the external examiner.”
To address the problems, the university had included ability to supervise at least ten students in five years among modalities of selection of new vice chancellors.

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