To promote and increase awareness about the Higher Degrees by Research (HDR) programmes to the international community, the Fiji National University’s (FNU) Research Office recently conducted two seminars.
The first seminar was in partnership with the Pacific Online Learning & Teaching Network and the other with the FNU HDR students via the FNU Higher Degrees by Research (Doctoral) Training programme.
FNU’s international research partners and collaborators as well the HDR programme students participated in the sessions. The Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research & Innovation, Professor Roland De Marco welcomed and congratulated all FNU HDR students as key contributors to the University’s research agenda.
Academics from the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC) and other universities in Australia and New Zealand joined the seminar to learn about the FNU HDR programme. Also present was the Director for the USC Australian Centre for Pacific Islands Research (ACPIR).
FNU HDR students who received Pacific Agriculture Scholarship Scheme also participated in the webinars.
Director of Research at FNU’s Research Office, Dr Ronald Kumar presented on the theme ‘Strengthening Online HDR Student – Supervisor Relationship: An example of Fiji National University.’
In his presentation, Dr Kumar discussed how the HDR student and supervisor relationship could be strengthened during the ‘new-normal’ when universities are generally closed and students are working on their dissertations via online mode.
He shared his experiences based on the FNU HDR programme and explained the roles and responsibilities of the HDR students and the HDR supervisors.
Dr Kumar also emphasized to the HDR students their responsibilities, especially during these unprecedented times, where campuses are closed and access to research capabilities are limited.
He also explained the pros and cons of undertaking HDR programmes online and face-to-face.
“Online learning structures can be beneficial – providing a clear and coherent structure of learning and supporting self-regulated learning.”
“On the other hand, face-to-face learning leads to a good rapport among students and supervisors also embedding students in the research cultures of University groups and clusters. However, students must not become over-reliant on the supervisor,” Dr Kumar added.
Despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19, Dr Kumar stated HDR programmes continued through remote delivery, online and technology-enabled modes of research.
Participants were also informed about the role of the Research Office in admitting the HDR students, integrating them into the research culture of FNU, as well as supporting them as they navigate through their research studies including the publication of articles and the successful completion of their HDR degrees.