Factors Influencing the Degree Progress of International PhD Students from Africa: An Exploratory Study
pp. 79-94 | Published Online: May 2017 | DOI: 10.22521/unibulletin.2017.61.7
Almoustapha Oumarou Soumana, Mohammad Rahim Uddin
In recent decades some countries of the Middle East have offered facilities to attract international students to pursue their higher education within their higher education institutions. The purpose of this study is to understand the difficulties faced by these students while conducting their studies abroad, and in doing so, to broaden the awareness of the challenges they face to complete their research. The participants of this qualitative study are international PhD students studying at a Middle Eastern public university. The university has reported increasing enrollment of international students, particularly from Africa in the last few years. Data were collected using a set of semi-structured interviews that drew out information on critical incidents that characterized the kind of difficulties students had faced in their studies. The data collected was further analyzed using a qualitative software package, NVivo (QSR International, 11). Six main themes came out from the content analysis of the interviews, which are the role of the adviser, student features, funding issues, family engagement, research and psychological obstacles which provide a holistic picture of student perspectives on the factors that influence degree progress. While these students might have faced difficulties mentioned in existing literature, this study argues that the participants have indicated experiencing psychological obstacles that were not described in earlier studies, such as the state of mind they were in as a result of being worried for family members due to war or violence in their home countries, and drop in currency exchange rates and difficulties in acquiring money due to international sanctions imposed against their countries. This study provides important thoughts on the factors that impact the degree progress of international PhD students from Africa, while at the same time revealing a serious gap in the advisers’ role which can contribute to the problems experience during the study progress of doctoral students.
Keywords: writing-up doctoral dissertation, PhD degree progress, study completion impediment, African countries, NvivoReferences
Abdullah, M. N. L. Y., & Evans, T. (2012). The relationships between postgraduate research students’ psychological attributes and their supervisors’ supervision training. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 31, 788-793.
Abedi, J., & Benkin, E. (1987). The effects of students' academic, financial, and demographic variables on time to the doctorate. Research in Higher Education, 27(1), 3-14.
Araque, F., Roldánb, C., & Salgueroa, A. (2009). Factors influencing university drop out rates. Computers & Education, 53(3), 563-574.
Bolli, T., Agasisti, T., & Johnes, G. (2015). The impact of institutional student support on graduation rates in US Ph. D. programmes. Education economics, 23(4), 396-418.
Bourke, S., Holbrook, A., Lovat, T., & Dally, K. (2004). Characteristics, degree completion times and thesis quality of Australian PhD candidates. Newcastle, Australia: NOVA, The University of Newcastle's Digital Repository.
Bowen, W. G., & Rudenstine, N. L. (1992). In pursuit of the Ph.D. Princeton, EE. UU: NJ Princeton University Press.
Cook, M. M., & Swanson, A. (1978). The interaction of student and program variables for the purpose of developing a model for predicting graduation from graduate programs over a 10-year period. Research in Higher Education, 8(1), 83-91.
Dante, A., Valoppi, G., Saiani, L., & Palese, A. (2011). Factors associated with nursing students' academic success or failure: A retrospective Italian multicenter study. Nurse Education Today, 31(1), 59-64.
De Valero, Y. F. (2001). Departmental factors affecting time-to-degree and completion rates of doctoral students at one land-grant research institution. The Journal of Higher Education, 72(3), 341-367.
Elo, S., & Kyngäs, H. (2008). The qualitative content analysis process. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 62(1), 107-115.
Girves, J. E., & Wemmerus, V. (1988). Developing models of graduate student degree progress. The Journal of Higher Education, 59(2), 163-189.
Groenvynck, H., Vandevelde, K., & Van Rossem, R. (2013). The PhD track: Who succeeds, who drops out? Research Evaluation, 22(4), 199-209.
Ho, J. C., Wong, L. C. J., & Wong, P. T. P. (2010). What helps and what hinders thesis completion: A critical incident study. International Journal of Existential Psychology and Psychotherapy, 3(2), 117-131.
Humphrey, R., Marshall, N., & Leonardo, L. (2012). The impact of research training and research codes of practice on submission of doctoral degrees: an exploratory cohort study. Higher education quarterly, 66(1), 47-64.
Ives, G., & Rowley, G. (2005). Supervisor selection or allocation and continuity of supervision: Ph. D. students’ progress and outcomes. Studies in higher education, 30(5), 535-555.
Jiranek, V. (2010). Potential predictors of timely completion among dissertation research students at an Australian faculty of sciences. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 5(1), 1-13.
Kam, B. H. (1997). Style and quality in research supervision: the supervisor dependency factor. Higher Education, 34(1), 81-103.
Kearns, H., Gardiner, M., & Marshall, K. (2008). Innovation in PhD completion: The hardy shall succeed (and be happy!). Higher Education Research & Development, 27(1), 77-89.
Kluever, R. C. (1997). Students' attitudes toward the responsibilities and barriers in doctoral study. New Directions for Higher Education, 1997(99), 47-56.
Lebcir, R. M., Wells, H., & Bond, A. (2008). Factors affecting academic performance of international students in project management courses: A case study from a British Post 92 University. International Journal of Project Management, 26(3), 268-274.
Maher, M. A., Ford, M. E., & Thompson, C. M. (2004). Degree progress of women doctoral students: Factors that constrain, facilitate, and differentiate. The Review of Higher Education, 27(3), 385-408.
Manathunga, C. (2005). Early warning signs in postgraduate research education: A different approach to ensuring timely completions. Teaching in Higher Education, 10(2), 219-233.
Mohamed, A., Ismail, A. H., Mohd, M. M., & Mohd, N. (2012). Exploring Factors Influencing the Success of Doctoral Students in Engineering. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 60, 325-332.
Morton, K. R., & Worthley, J. S. (1995). Psychology graduate program retention, completion and employment outcomes. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 22(4), 349-353.
Owler, K. (2010). A ‘problem’ to be managed? Completing a PhD in the arts and humanities. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 9(3), 289-304.
Rodwell, J., & Neumann, R. (2008). Predictors of timely doctoral student completions by type of attendance: the utility of a pragmatic approach. Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 30(1), 65-76.
Schofer, E., & Meyer, J. W. (2005). The worldwide expansion of higher education in the twentieth century. American sociological review, 70(6), 898-920.
Seagram, B. C., Gould, J., & Pyke, S. W. (1998). An investigation of gender and other variables on time to completion of doctoral degrees. Research in Higher Education, 39(3), 319-335.
Smith, B. (1995, April). Hidden Rules, Secret Agendas: Challenges Facing Contemporary Women Doctoral Students. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, CA.
Tinto, V. (1987). Leaving college: Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition. ERIC. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Van Ours, J. C., & Ridder, G. (2003). Fast track or failure: a study of the graduation and dropout rates of Ph.D students in economics. Economics of Education Review, 22(2), 157-166.
Wright, T. (2003). Postgraduate research students: people in context? British Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 31(2), 209-227.
Wright, T., & Cochrane, R. (2000). Factors influencing successful submission of PhD theses. Studies in Higher Education, 25(2), 181-195.
Call for Papers
UNIBULLETIN is calling for submissions to the Vol. 6, Issue 2, 2017.
Authors are invited to submit papers from the broader fields of the social sciences and related disciplines in the international context.
All submissions should be presented only in English. Manuscripts should be sent to the Editor-in-Chief via e-mail: email@example.com
Submission Deadline: October 1, 2017.