Challenges of Thesis Work: Towards Minimizing the Non-Completion Rate in the Postgraduate Degree Program

F. H. Abdul Rauf


Although the students registering for postgraduate program are increasing in number in Sri Lanka, many postgraduate students dropped out or delayed their graduation because of the challenge of thesis completion. In Sri Lanka, it is frequently quoted that while students are able to complete their all course works in their postgraduate degree program, most of the students do not complete their degrees within the stipulated period. Although, non-completion has many negative consequences, the existing body of literature examining the non-completion at postgraduate level is quite small. Therefore, this study focused on research questions ‘what do candidates of Sri Lankan University postgraduate program perceive as barriers to completion of the degree? And to what extent do PG students perceive these barriers responsible for delay in their thesis completion? Initially this study reviewed the literature to identify any factors which have been identified as hindrance for a thesis completion. Then, this study employed two types of analysis: Exploratory and descriptive. The former explore the situation by generating information from relevant respondent group and do content analysis for finding factors which influence completion of dissertation. The latter describe with frequencies and mean to describe and explain the real situation of the non-completion. The postgraduate students of national universities in Sri Lanka who did not complete their program within the given program duration constituted the population of the study. Exploratory study resulted with six factors, descriptive study suggest that although all  of these factors influence thesis completion rate, student quality has significant influence in completing thesis. Personal situations and financial resources have also been identified as the next important factors in its significance. Implications of findings with recommendations to improve thesis completion also discussed.

Keywords: Non-completion, postgraduate, degree, thesis, challenges, Sri Lanka

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