Key challenge to timely completion of graduate studies: A case of presentation of satisfactory financial accountability statements by university research teams

Postgraduate research and training programs are viewed as key operational units at universities that are designed to deliver on the advancement of knowledge, scholarship and innovation. Most of the student scholarships and research support for postgraduate level is secured through grants awarded to winning projects/ research teams with a view to generate research outputs as well as increase the pool of trained human personnel. In light of these, several development partners view postgraduate training as a cost-effective approach to delivering desired outputs for building impactful innovation capacity. With the increasing need for human capital to design and guide implementation of research for development, universities in Africa have put in place postgraduate training and research programs. A key challenge that remains for most Masters and PhD Programs at universities in Africa is the issue of timely completion. This has been attributed to several factors but one key aspect that is often under looked is that of the capacity of the university research teams (the Principal Investigator and Co-supervisors of the graduate student as well as the graduate students themselves) to manage accounts and present satisfactory/ acceptable financial statements to grants awarded. In this paper, we analyse this aspect based on data purposively obtained from cohorts of university-based research teams awarded grants for the period 2009 - 2015 under the auspices of the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM). The results indicate significant delays with presentation of acceptable accountability statements. While some of the research teams submit on time (these are not captured in the data), the deviations from expected due date are in some cases more than a year (12 months as indicated in the number of days for a submission after eadline with the highest in 2009 being 607 days, 311, 110, 123, 325, and 418, in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015, respectively). Delayed in accountability are a major cause of delays in project implementation and by implication completion of students’ research and training programme. It is important for stakeholders in the postgraduate research and training engagements to make provisions for equipping university research teams to embrace timely accountability.
Date of publication: 
Region Focus: 
East Africa
RUFORUM Working document series
Agris Subject Categories: 
Licence conditions: 
Open Access
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Web resource