The focal objective of this study was to explore the aim of students’ interest in postgraduate study of Library and Information Science (LIS) and the challenges being faced by them by while planning and writing thesis. The quantitative research method followed by survey design was used to conduct this study. The data gathering tool was questionnaire that was adapted for data collection. The population of the study was the enrolled M. Phil and Ph. D. students who were perusing their dissertations from the library schools of the University of Calabar province. There were 72 students who were enrolled in M.Phil programme and 26 were registered in Ph.D. programme. The questionnaires were sent to all the students through emails and 71 (72%) questionnaires were filled out by the respondents. Frequencies, percentage, mean, standard deviation were used for data analysis through the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). It was found that the major aim of LIS post graduate students to peruse M.Phil or PhD to achieve better employment. Many challenges were being faced by LIS postgraduate students in process of their dissertations writing. Major challenges included tough schedule of job, family responsibility, language barriers and lack of critical thinking.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUD
Demand for postgraduate education in Nigeria has escalated since the year 2000 and is still growing. This growth in demand to higher education is not limited to Nigeria but to both developing and developed countries of the world (Kaur & Sidhu, 2009). Among the factors highlighted in the escalating demand are: lack of immediate employment after first degree, the desire to acquire higher degree or to achieve individual academic goals and achieve personal independence. Other reasons as pointed out by Etejere (2006) are economic motivation and high demand for specialized skills by the public and private sectors. Postgraduate education is the higher level of education which is provided after bachelor’s degree. It is formal and comprised of structured programmes. It exists in three levels of Postgraduate Diploma or certificate, Master’s degree and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) degree. The provision of postgraduate education takes the form of course work or a combination of course work and thesis writing. In the later case, students offer courses to satisfy course work requirements before embarking upon research and thesis writing. The research and thesis writing are critical components of postgraduate studies. Postgraduate research students work with their supervisors on their theses. The main duty of the supervisor is to provide guidance to students by checking every aspect of their work and also making inputs and comments where necessary. These postgraduate programmes are either organized on full-time or part-time basis.
Much as there has been an escalating demand for postgraduate admission, the yearly out-put of graduating students has continued to decline. There is a noticeable mismatch between graduate students intake and the number of higher degree graduate output. Previous researches have observed that up to half of the students who begin their graduate studies spend more than the required number of years and some do not complete their studies at all (Golde, 2001; Duze, 2010). For instance, an analysis of progress report of Masters and Ph.D students in some selected departments during the 2005/2006 academic session in University of Calabar indicated the following: out of the 43 Masters students who were enrolled during the period only 6(14%) completed their programme on schedule, while 37(86%) were at various stages of their research by the year 2010/2011 academic session. Similarly during the same period only 8(16%) Ph.D students out of 50 completed their studies on schedule. Four(8%) students had to withdraw for various reasons, while 38(76%) could not complete by the end of 2010/2011 session. Postgraduate students in Nigerian Universities encounter many difficulties which unduly prolong the successful completion of their programmes. In the course of postgraduate studies, the challenges encountered by part-time students are often different from those experienced by full-time students, apparently because in most cases, part-time students may be in full-time employment or have other responsibilities and commitments which distract their focus.
Graduate students in the University of Calabar come from varied and diverse background in terms of age, experience, ability, marital status and so on. Some have funding or scholarship support while some are self financing. Some are workers which present the problem of divided interest and low commitment. These background factors inadvertently affect students’ ability and achievement. Students offering graduate studies at the University of Calabar are also under increased pressure to complete their programmes within a specified time period. For the Masters degree programme, full-time students have a minimum completion period of three semesters and a maximum of five semesters, while the Ph.D programme have a duration of six semesters for full-time students and a maximum of ten semesters. In terms of the part-time students, the minimum programme duration for Ph.D students is 10 semesters and a maximum of 14 semesters, while for the masters programme the duration is four semesters minimum and six semesters maximum.