Arba Minch University School of Graduate Studies (SGS) action guidelines

I. Introduction

Arba Minch University has been evaluating the processes of its teaching-learning performance to take necessary measures in order to continuously improve the production of quality manpower which can contribute to the overall development endeavors of the country. Currently, the university is accomplishing its teaching and learning mission with 42 undergraduate and 35 graduate programs. However, some irregularities regarding graduate course offering, thesis proposal writing and defense; and conduction of actual research work and its evaluation are repeatedly noticed. Many students fail to complete their course work and their subsequent thesis projects as per the schedule of the program. For this reason, the School Graduate Studies (SGS) found it necessary to design and implement some specific guidelines that direct and improve the various activities of the school. The guidelines are designed in such a way that they comply with the university senate legislation and are presented next.

II. Specific guidelines

  1. Special or project sponsored graduate programs should be administered and implemented by SGS following similar procedures of formal graduate programs.
  2. A curriculum of graduate program is implemented by SGS after the curriculum is approved by the senate.
  3. Depending on the existing situations of a department, a team consisting of 3-7senior instructors providing graduate courses (members), college/institute graduate school coordinator (secretary) and head of the department hosting a graduate program (chairperson) should be established to form Department Graduate Council (DGC). If a department has many graduate programs, attempts should be made so that each program has a representative in the DGC. The council shall handle issues of graduate students forwarded by the college/institute graduate coordinators to the council. The department will assign other instructors to replace the senior instructors when any of the member instructors fails to attend the DGC meeting. The scientific director and the college deans have the mandate to follow up the activities of the DGC, and provide necessary support to the council. Issues failing to get appropriate solution at DGC level will be directly forwarded to and handled by the university graduate council (GC).
  4. The graduate course assignment should be done by the DGC in a transparent and participatory way. It should be done in such a way that it does not create a big burden on a few instructors. Accordingly, while a normal staff member should supervise the maximum of 5 students, a staff holding an administrative position needs to supervise a maximum of 3 students per semester. However, under circumstances where it is difficult to find other (internal & external) advisors, the staff members may advise more than the stated number of students. But to maintain quality of the theses/dissertations, position holders should be assisted by co-advisors. The course assignment should be communicated to individual advisors and co-advisors through the college/institute graduate coordinators in time.
  5. A department hosting a graduate program has a responsibility of searching and availing guest instructors; initiating, developing and revising curricula; assigning course instructors and thesis advisors, examiners and chairpersons; preparing, administering and correcting entrance exams; preparing and distributing class schedules to course instructors and to college/institute graduate coordinators.
  6. A college/institute graduate coordinator is responsible to follow up and monitor department graduate activities; prepare and sign on students’ registration slips, send students to the registrar to get registered every semester, collect and document the slips; follow up each student’s academic status and take necessary actions;  follow up the cases of individual graduate students; facilitate graduate teaching learning process (eg. making instructional materials available for guest instructors particularly for guests, processing accommodation and payment of instructors), collect students thesis proposals and final results, check the match between thesis proposals and thesis reports, check whether students’ theses are in line with the agreed format of the SGS;   and   liaise between department/college/institute and SGS (take issues of graduate students to DGC and back to SGS).
  7. After the students’ grades are processed by the registrar, the grade reports are properly placed in the student file at the registrar, at the college/institute graduate coordination office, at the student’s department and with the student. Accordingly, graduate students slips and grade reports are prepared in four copies.
  8. After getting admission to a graduate program, new students are immediately informed the total amount they are required to pay to cover their study. Then, self-sponsored students will sign an agreement to pay the fee in four installments (at the start of each semester). Government/organization-sponsored students will take an agreement form to their respective sponsors and get the form signed by the sponsors. The agreement will enforce the sponsors to pay the total amount once before the end of the first semester the candidate has begun the study.  For the remaining semesters, the student will register each semester bearing the receipt verifying that his/her payment is already made.
  9. If a graduate student remains with two or more courses after the time allotted for the course work is over, the student will  complete the remaining courses during the following semester; and will carry out his/her research in the other semester.
  10. Graduate students are expected to submit their research proposal titles to their respective departments through college/institute coordinators during second semester for programs with two semester course work; and during third semester for programs with three semester course work. Then, the assignment of advisors is executed under the guidance of department graduate council (DGC) and in the presence of the college/institute graduate coordinator and the institute scientific director or college dean. During this process, the college/institute graduate coordinators will avail students’ choice of advisors plus the list of experienced and competent advisors inside and outside of the university. Then, the advisors assignment is done in a participatory manner and in a way that the work (advisorship) does not put a large burden on a few instructors.
  11. An advisor shall sign a contract agreement with the University School of Graduate Studies (SGS) to let his/her advisee complete and defend the thesis on time. The advisor will receive the money specified in the agreement when the advisee completes his/her thesis on time and successfully defends it.
  12. A graduate student shall defend his/her thesis proposal after the proposal is properly evaluated and approved by his/her advisor around the end of second semester for two semester course work program; and  around the end of third semester for three semester course work program. An open defense session, where all the college/institute management (dean or scientific director & department heads), instructors and all graduate students are available, should be arranged to create an academic environment where the defending candidate and other participants obtain important lessons.
  13. After the proposal of a graduate student is successfully defended and approved, the student proceeds to undertake his/her research. However, the student needs to make progress work report to his/her advisor as well as to the respective college/institute graduate coordinator.
  14. Three different thesis defense sessions, which allow graduate students to complete and defend their theses at different times during their final study year, shall be arranged every year. The first session will be conducted around the end of June; and the second session organized around the beginning of October to provide an opportunity for students who have failed to complete their research during the first session. The third session will be arranged around the beginning of February to offer additional chance for students who still fail to finalize their research during the second session. These defense sessions will be approved by the university registrar and made part of the university calendar.
  15. After receiving graduate students’ theses, DGC shall appoint an examining board including internal and external examiners and a chairperson for each thesis to evaluate the theses. The external examiner, the internal examiner and the chairperson will respectively grant points of 50%, 35% and 15% of the total marks. All the members (including the chairperson) of the examining board should be from the discipline that the topic of the thesis comes and all of them need to read the thesis in advance and comment on all aspects of the thesis. In case disagreements arise among the members, the external examiner’s decision shall play a decisive role in determining the final result of the thesis.
  16. If a work (thesis or dissertation) of graduate student is found to be plagiarized (partially or fully copied from other sources), the work is automatically rejected and the student will be asked to redo the thesis, following all necessary procedures (selection of title, defense of proposal & conduction of the thesis). The candidate also needs to pay the fee required for thesis supervision (5,000 birr for a Master’s project at the time of writing these guidelines).
  17. The institute scientific director/college dean, department head, all staff members of the respective department and graduate students are required to participate in the defense session of graduate students. The session needs to create an academic environment from which the participants can draw useful lessons.
  18. The director of School of Graduate Studies will oversee, coordinate and lead all the aforementioned activities. In addition, he/she will follow up and monitor the proper implementation of the activities and take necessary actions where needed.


The guidelines are made effective as of July 3, 2014.


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