How to Attract and Groom Postgraduate Students

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Today I had a short chit-chat session with the dean post meeting on journal publication. We talked about life and career. But what attracted me the most was when shared his secrets on attracting postgraduate students and grooming them to become good researchers.

Firstly, in order to look for these potential students, we have to look beyond the university. This means, people who have stable career in a company/an industry. These people are the ones who do not have financial constraints in pursuing their studies. By not relying on other financial instruments such as MyMaster etc, they can work smoothly and in peace knowing that their maintenance and fees are not burdening and slowing down their progress. Another one is to tell the prospective students that doing Master/Phd is not hard but it requires heavy work. This means, doing PhD/Master is not hard as long as you follow the process of a PhD/Master. i.e. literature search, conduct experiments/data collection etc. But as we know, this process can become very long and tiring and some people may give up halfway through. Thus, persistence is the key. The key to successfully completing research.

Secondly, once we managed to secure the prospective students, we should treat our students as partners and build a good relationship with them. This is extremely important to minimise the possibilities of miscommunication and that problems encountered by the students are resolved. This will eventually ensure smooth research progress of a student.

Thirdly, we need to use a proper approach for each student. Some students are very bright and can work fast with minimal monitoring from the supervisor. Some students need frequent monitoring to ensure that they stay on track. These students are the “naughty” ones which needed to be pushed by the supervisor. The other type of students are the ones who need to be guided from the start to the finish. These are the ones that require full attention from the supervisor. In short, there are many types of students. Each with their own different way of doing things. It is like having a children with different characters. Each child is treated differently to suit their own character and ability.

Finally, conduct a regular meeting with the students. The dean had a large number of students (around 40++) doing Master and PhD under his supervision. Every month, he would conduct a group meeting with his students. This approach might seem inappropriate to some since it is not an individual meeting. But this method has its own advantage. By getting to know each other, they can actually work in team! Senior students for instance can guide the junior students in some aspects of research while junior students help senior students in finding articles because they are mostly in the library searching for papers during early semesters. Ain’t it brilliant?

All these have been proven to successfully produce high numbers of graduates in Master and PhD. Well, that’s all for now. Hope you enjoy reading this post. 🙂


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