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Research Seminar Series



We are pleased to invite you to our weekly research series this Wednesday December 3rd from 4pm at Middlesex University Dubai in the Oasis Theater, Block 16, Knowledge Village.


The Research Seminar Series was launched in 2008, and has featured more than 135 presentations to date. The seminars provide a forum for researchers to share their recent work. Presenters include faculty from Middlesex University Dubai and other universities in the United Arab Emirates, as well as researchers from other global institutions.  This week’s presentation is:


Student Access and Postgraduate Readiness

Sandy Stephenson

Middlesex University Dubai




This mixed method, grounded theory study aimed to explore student access to Master’s degrees, seeking to capture the essence of ‘postgraduate readiness’: the generic (non-certificated) attributes which academics expect graduates to possess in order to undertake Master’s level study.  While the majority of students enter Master’s level via the formal route (normally an Honours or 4-year bachelor’s degree), a significant number are admitted based on the recognition of prior learning (RPL), a practice which is encouraged in many countries as a means of widening access and also of acknowledging that learning can take place in ways other than ‘formally’.


The findings showed that while RPL is well defined at the undergraduate level, the concept of RPL at the postgraduate level is vague and largely left to institutional discretion.  No international, and few national or institutional guidelines are available on which to base the assessment of potential Master’s degree students who do not have Honours degrees. Interviews with Deans, supervisors and policy makers indicated that there is a general perception of student deficit compared to those entering the Master’s with formal qualifications. However, the statistical findings showed no significant difference in success rates or time taken to completion between students with and without Honours degrees. In addition, comments from supervisors with extensive experience of alternative access students praised the diversity and rich life experience which such students brought to their studies and their peers. in conclusion, a framework for the assessment of potential Master’s candidates – both RPL and formal admissions – for use at higher education institutions, is proposed.





After graduating from Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa with a Bachelor of Journalism and Media Studies degree in 1985, Sandy Stephenson worked in the University’s Human Resources Division in the field of recruitment and selection for seven years before she was appointed as the University’s first Academic Planning Officer. She was promoted to Director of Academic Planning and Quality Assurance in 2001, and appointed as Director of Institutional Planning in 2010. She completed a Management Development Programme (mini-MBA) with distinction in 2000 and has recently completed a Master’s degree in Higher Education, also with distinction.


Sandy was a member of the University’s senior management team and represented Rhodes University on national QA and institutional planning bodies. She was involved in policy development in the field of planning and QA at the institutional, regional and national levels and represented the University at various international conferences, including most recently the ANQAHE conference in Abu Dhabi, UAE in 2011. She has delivered papers at seven international conferences and published in international journals.  She has undertaken research into international recognition of higher education institutions and has also assisted other South African universities in developing and implementing strategic plans and institutional policies.


You can find all of our past seminars at

If you are interested in presenting at one of our future seminars, or would like to recommend someone, please contact :


Dr. Cody Morris Paris

Programme Coordinator- Social Science Programmes

BA (Hons) International Politics

BA (Hons) International Development

BSc (Hons) Global Social Science

MA International Relations

Chair- Research Committee

Middlesex University Dubai

United Arab Emirates

Direct: +971 4 433 1776

Fax: +9714 3604772


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