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Experiences of Expatriate Academics at UKZN Investigated in Doctorate Research

April 23, 2015

Dr Ashika Maharaj celebrating her achievement with her husband.
Dr Ashika Maharaj celebrating her achievement with her husband.

UKZN academic and former Leadership and Equity Advancement Programme (LEAP) beneficiary, Dr Ashika Maharaj, was awarded a PhD for her thesis titled: “Expatriate Academics and Expatriate Management in a South African Higher Education Institution”.

Maharaj’s research was supervised by Dr Karen Ortlepp and Dr Given Mutinta.

She dedicated her research and degree to the memory of her late father.

Maharaj’s study focuses on the experiences of expatriate academics at UKZN, both from the perspective of the individual as well as those directly responsible for their management ie line management and HR specialists.

Even though the LEAP Programme no longer exists at UKZN, Maharaj says it lived up to what it promised - the nurturing of young academics, and their integration into academic life within the University.

‘The LEAP Programme opened up the opportunity to travel and meet with academics from the Academy of Management, who started a faculty development workshop in Accra, Ghana for African academics beginning their PhDs in 2011. Through the friendships fostered here many opportunities were created for networking and mentorship.’

Maharaj is one of eight academics in the College Law and Management Studies to obtain a doctoral degree this year. She understands the importance of the PhD project at UKZN however she cautions: ‘Increasing the number of PhDs is commendable but management needs to ensure proper development and training occurs to ensure we produce graduates of a high academic calibre if we truly want to be a global academic player.’

She concurs with most doctoral graduates that the journey is arduous, however with the support of her parents and her husband nothing could stand in her way.

In the midst of her studies she went through the loss of her father, and had to take care of her mother, while being a supportive mother to her three teenage children.

Her professional life was also tested when the University underwent the reconfiguration process and her supervisor resigned from UKZN in 2013.

Maharaj plans to expand her research work in the near future but for now she will focus on her children. ‘I think what my children missed the most was my baking during these four long years. Before the PhD, I was an avid baker, with home baked goodies a regular feature, and creative birthday cakes. Now mum’s back!’

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