e-Supervision (III). Olive Mugenda. e-Supervision to support the development of doctoral studies in Africa

Notes from the workshop on Doctoral education and e-Supervision, organized by the Catalan Association of Public Universities (ACUP), the International Association of Universities (IAU), the Open University of Catalonia (UOC) and the Kenyatta University (KU) within the project Personal Learning Environment (PLE)-PhD project financed through the IAU LEADHER programme, and held in Barcelona, Spain, in October 31, 2013. More notes on this event: plephd.

Olive Mugenda, Vice-Chancellor, Kenyatta University (KU), Kenya
e-Supervision to support the development of doctoral studies in Africa

Ensure that quality of training programmes is everywhere.

Doctoral students are often already employed at the university.

Most phds in Africa are employed at the university. It is not usual to find phds that are not at the university.

Age average of phd students is 30-50, very different from other places.

Challenges of doctoral education in Africa:

  • Shortage of phds in universities: growth of academic staff has not matched the growth of enrolment, low levels of research in some disciplines.
  • Quality of phds: quality of institution depends on the quality of the academic staff, and the quality of doctoral students depends on the quality of the supervision.
  • Low completion rates: part of it due to lack of or bad supervision.
  • Lack of international exposure of faculty: lots of inbreeding too. Quality of faculty is, to a large extent, dependent on the international exposure acquired in graduate & postdoctoral education.

Factors the impact the quality of PhDs:

  • Lack of institutional and programme policies: organization, incentives, discipline expectations, a clear supervision policy with detailed responsibilities, etc.
  • Supervision itself, that requires support and challenges.
  • Massification of higher education, high number of people globally.


  • To complement internal supervision and support.
  • For supervision to be more effective.
  • Connecting the supervisor and the student regardless of space.
  • Intensive use of ICTs.
  • Also in the thesis defence.


  • Use the services of renowned experts.
  • Increase the quality and improve the experience.
  • Productive and effective way to manage and supervise students.
  • Strengthen local research capacity and regional networking, holistic and inclusive approach, active involvement of institutions… and students themselves.
  • To extend research and employment opportunities into remote, rural and hard-to-fill locations.
  • Access to desirable research internships.
  • Minimize supervisors’ travel time.


  • Lack of a well defined e-supervision professional code of conduct.
  • Poor e-supervisor and e-supervisee technological knowhow, access to technological infrastructures.
  • e-Supervision is costly.


  • Develop an e-supervision framework.
  • Define the role for e-supervisors, and the student and supervisor e-relationship.
  • Assurance of quality.
  • Remuneration of e-supervisors.
  • Institutional collaboration on e-supervision.
  • Recognition of e-supervisor work by home and beneficiary institutions.
  • Capacity building for e-supervision.


Miquel Duran: how many time can the doctoral students allocate to their PhDs, especially the ones that “need” the PhD? Mugenda: lecturers normally have time allocated for that.

Chrissie Boughey: how do we transpose the different models of supervision of the different disciplines into e-supervision? Mugenda: regarding research methods, it is a matter of finding what is actually different and what is common. And then centralize what is common and distribute or adapt what is really different.

Hilligje van’t Land: if the e-supervisor is not from the university, how does it fit with local relevance, and with local content? Will the strategy be in line with the university’s strategy? Mugenda: this is a minor problem in comparison with the amount of students that want to do a PhD and not be able to do it. And it is also a matter of binding the e-supervisor with the university.


Doctoral education and e-Supervision (2013)

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2013) “e-Supervision (III). Olive Mugenda. e-Supervision to support the development of doctoral studies in Africa” In ICTlogy, #121, October 2013. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from https://ictlogy.net/review/?p=4138

Previous post: e-Supervision (II). Ismael Peña-López. e-Supervision: framing the debate

Next post: e-Supervision (IV). Innovative tools enabling e-supervision

RSS feed RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Your comment: