Retreat energises PhD students

16 September 2009 | Story by Newsroom

students attendingMotivated: Second-year PhD researchers attended CHED's residential retreat programme at Cape Manor Hotel recently.

Doctoral students at UCT were armed, motivated and refocused at the annual PhD Residential Retreat Programme, hosted by the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHED) last week.

The two-day event, funded by the AW Mellon Foundation and held at the Cape Manor Hotel in Sea Point, saw seasoned and up-and-coming researchers reflecting on the ups and downs of doctoral studies, and sharing their experiences with current doctoral students.

Open to full-time second-year PhD researchers, the programme provides postgraduate students with support in networking and non-discipline-based academic skills.

Topics included the roles of students and supervisors in the process, developing a postgraduate writer's voice, support structures and career management. These came in handy for students.

"Doing a PhD is a long journey, and sometimes you can easily loose focus," said clinical science student Roman Ntale. He said the experiences of past students and discussions with other students have left him refocused and highly motivated.

Godfrey Tawodzera, doing his PhD on urban food security with the Department of Environmental and Geographical Science, said the programme reminded him that he was not alone, and that there is nothing unique about the challenges he is facing.

"Sometimes you are almost sure that you are out there in the wilderness and wonder how you will get out," he said.

For education technology student Olive Birabe the programme was so useful that she's keen to meet with her fellow PhD researchers more regularly to report on their and her own progress.

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