Institution of a Higher Studies Cell

The Higher Studies Cell (HSC) was constituted with the express purpose of setting up and enacting an agenda for expanding the postgraduate portfolio of the MIE.

The HSC is an institutional effort at structuring postgraduate provisions and ensuring the quality of outcomes and processes for research degrees. Its activities are intended to enrich the quality of the research environment for students registered on research oriented programmes, and provide development opportunities for staff to be able to offer supervisory guidance and high quality teaching at postgraduate level.

Four programmes are now administratively and academically housed under the HSC. Three of these programmes are serviced under collaborative arrangements with the University of Brighton (thereafter UoB) and the University of KwaZulu- Natal (thereafter UKZN).

Programmes offered by the Higher Studies Cell

It currently houses the master’s level and doctoral programmes namely:

  • The Master in Education (MA Ed) programme offered in collaboration with the University of Brighton (UoB), UK
  • The Professional Doctorate in Education (Ed.D.) programme offered in collaboration with the University of Brighton (UoB), UK
  • The Ph.D. in Education programme offered in Collaboration with the University of KwaZulu Natal, SA
  • The Postgraduate Diploma in Education (MIE)

Master’s Level Programme

The PGDip (Ed)

The PGDip (Ed) was constructed to allow the MIE to run on its own Stage 1 of the Master in Education and offer a full -fledged postgraduate diploma award in case candidates decide to exit with the credits acquired. It stands in lieu of Stage 1 of the MA Education programme run with the UoB for those who cannot access directly Stage 2 of the same programme via the Recognition of Prior Learning route offered through the PGCE. The former offers exemption for 80 CATS point out of the total of 180 CATS point which make up the Master programme (this represents the four modules of 20 CATS point each which constituted the Master in Education programme prior to 2014). The PGDip is composed of four modules which are equivalent in terms of generic cognitive skills, content, understandings associated with Stage 1 of the MA curriculum which focuses on developing specific specialist knowledge in education in pedagogy, curriculum and leadership, as well as the knowledge and skills to become a reflective practitioner.

The Master in Education

Since 2015, the University of Brighton services only Stage 2 (100 CATS) of the Master in Education programme since Stage 1 is completed via two exemption routes of the PGCE or the PGDip (Ed). These two routes were the MIE via the Academic Board and UoB via the School of Education Board validated through a careful process of mapping the range of learning outcomes of the 2014 reviewed PGCE programme onto the master’s programm.

The Master in Education programme involves only 40 CATS Research Methodology Module designed to develop the skills of engaging in small scale practitioner research and a 60 CATS points dissertation. The aim of the Masters programme is to develop critical reflection, evidence based practices and research skills in education professionals. The dissertation work is a piece of practice based original research which is either in the form of an Action Research or a Case Study focusing on one aspect of professional experience on which understanding and improvement is sought.

Course Delivery

The course is run in intensive format starting April each year with inputs in April, July, October and December. These block intensive sessions of 8 hours each are supplemented by either twilight week day sessions or Saturday morning sessions of 2 hours each. The inputs do not however exceed 12 hours of teaching because the intention is to develop students’ autonomy and engagement in reading with critical understanding and writing. Critical Support Groups are set up to create a peer-mediated environment for learning. These are now taking online forms through WhatsApp and Skype.

Teaching and Learning

These are embedded in the standards for pedagogy as outlined in the Masters level descriptors. In practice, the team that teaches on the Master’s level programme taught components have expertise in the subject domains of the module.

Student Support at the HSC

Student support is provided directly by the HSC to the individual students. This support includes attending to students queries on their registration and progress, facilitating student liaison with staff, troubleshooting technical issues regarding access to library, contact with tutors and email accounts as well as advising students on their progress. The students have access to Student Central, the online management system of student learning at UoB. They are officially registered as both students of UoB and the MIE and thus can draw on the online resources of both institutions.

The Doctoral programmes

The Professional Doctorate in Education (UoB)

This is a two-staged programme with the first stage aiming to develop research and writing skills as embedded in the assignment tasks constructed to progressively develop skills in writing critical literature reviews, justifying, using and evaluating research methodologies and data analysis and interpretation. Successful completion of the first stage signals that the candidate is ready to prepare and defend a proposal for Stage two which is completed with the submission of a 65,000 word thesis of an original piece of research in the field of education. All students registered on the programme are subject to an annual review process whereby they formally discuss their progress and chart out how they can best negotiate the journey to completion of their studies.

The Doctoral Programme in Education (Ph.D.) with UKZN

The UKZN doctoral programme is run on a cohort model over a three-year period, although, as per university rules, a student who, after eight semesters as a full-time student or ten semesters as a part-time student, has not submitted a thesis for examination shall be required to apply for re-registration, which will only be permitted on receipt of a satisfactory motivation.

Its aim is to prepare students to draft their proposals in view of their defence in the first year, to negotiate field work in the second year and to engage with the three levels of data analysis in the third year. Four cohort seminars are run over a year which are attended by students and the MIE co-supervisors.  The students work with a UKZN based main supervisor and the MIE co-supervisors. In some cases the candidates may work with more than 2 supervisors.

Course Delivery

The courses for Ed.D. are run on the same pattern as for the Masters programme during the months of April, July and December, with intermittent twilight or Saturday sessions as per students’/ candidates’ and needs.

The PhD cohort seminars normally occur from Friday afternoon till late Sunday afternoon with candidates having to accomplish set tasks.The weekend seminars are held at approximately a two-month interval and kick start with the Plenary Public Talk on one key aspects of research which will drive candidates throughout the weekend.  The speakers holding these talks are invited because of their expertise and experience in either a research methodology or in a subject discipline that is relevant to the areas of focus of the group. The seminars are then oriented towards the nature and focus of the intervention. We have also adopted panel discussion formats when it was deemed fit to encourage multiple perspectives

The plenary discussion is followed by a debriefing for candidates and co-supervisors as well as a discussion on the organization and delivery of the programme for the weekend. The last one hour of the Sunday seminar is on planning together for the next seminar and the verbal and written feedback provided by students and tutors. These are encapsulated in a formal report produced by the overall coordinators.

Target Applicants

Both doctoral programmes awards aim at providing a continuous programme of academic professional development to those operating in the educational or related fields since they are both housed in the respective Schools of education. However, given the nature of the professional doctorate (Ed.D.) being employed in an education related role is an added requirement. While most of the candidates are occupying teaching or management or administrative positions in schools or post-secondary education institutions, we currently have three candidates who are not working in mainstream education system insofar as they are in Tax Department, Maritime education and Financial Education services.

Candidate Support

The major support system is through the supervisory team which has knowledge of the candidates’ research project and can assist more directly in responding to queries and orientating to readings for the development of a robust proposal or thesis.

The Cohort model is itself the more comprehensive form of support that candidates can mobilise since it draws from the dynamism of peer relationship and from all the co-supervisors. Thus extending the social learning environment and the dialogical space is expected to offer sufficient leverage for reflective progress for each candidate. The Higher Education Cell also provides the necessary administrative support for registration, online access as well as counselling to candidates regarding their progress. Students also have access to the UKZN library for online resources as well a number of interesting resources in the Curriculum centre at the MIE.

Members of the Higher Studies Cell

NAME TITLE/DEPARTMENT
Dr Hyleen Mariaye Chairperson and Head, Higher Studies Cell
Dr Ravhee Bholah Associate Professor, Science Department
Dr Ajay Ramful Associate Professor, Mathematics Department
Mr Vitan Bizlall Associate Professor, Curriculum Studies and Evaluation Department
Mr Gian Sandhaya Senior Lecturer and Head, Curriculum Studies and Evaluation Department
Mr Navin Hurreeram Senior Lecturer, Design and Technology Department
Mrs Shalini Ramasawmy Senior Lecturer, English Department
Mrs Waaiza Udhin Lecturer, Curriculum Studies and Evaluation Department
Mrs Neelam Bheem Singh Assistant Registrar