Postgraduate Supervision as Relational

presented by

Centre for Higher and Adult Education, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Dates: 25 March - 28 March 2025

Venue: Protea by Marriot Hotel & Conference Centre, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Conference Announcement

The Centre for Higher and Adult Education (CHAE) held its first international conference on postgraduate supervision in 2007 with the theme ‘Postgraduate supervision: state of the art and the artists’. Since then, seven more biennial conferences have been held.

Building on this experience, we are delighted to invite our wide network of international and national conference participants to the ninth Postgraduate Supervision Conference in March 2025. This conference will be hosted at the very popular Stellenbosch Protea Hotel just outside the university town of Stellenbosch.

The last few decades have seen a ‘relational turn’ across the social sciences with an emphasis on knowledge and research as relational processes. Here one focus is on the interaction among stakeholders as they generate knowledge together. Of increasing importance are the relations among the social, the biological and the technological in a more-than-human world. Relationality also has significant implications for postgraduate supervision. We expect presentations, discussions and debate to focus on postgraduate supervision in its variety of relational spaces, processes and outcomes - particularly in the context of increases and decreases in international and cross-border postgraduate study opportunities, the role of knowledge and innovation in economies around the world, the important role supervisors collectively play in the quality of postgraduate work as well as the variety of countries and institutions where postgraduate work and future researchers are produced. The chosen theme this time round is therefore stated as: ‘Postgraduate supervision as relational’.

Within graduate studies and its supervision, multiple authors have pointed out that compassion for students and research rigour are not opposite points on a spectrum, or that a movement towards one automatically reduces the other. They are better described as mutually arising and mutually reinforcing. It is thus possible to embody both research rigour and compassion at the same time.

Supervision and postgraduate work take place in a variety of relational spaces: personal, individual, disciplinary, collective, institutional, material, physical, virtual, and others. The ‘relational journey’ in supervision and postgraduate work has been debated as useful, but probably insufficient, to capture all its complexities and intricacies. We may therefore link the term ‘relational’ to ways whereby studies are started and promoted, how challenges and obstacles are overcome, how assistance and support are provided and a host of other dynamic features of the supervision-study relational interface.

Finally, the term ‘relational’ points to connections and behaviours that are important to promote engagement between students and supervisors, students and students, supervisors and supervisors, between institutions and their (post)graduate students, institutions and their supervisors, and more. Also of interest is the impact of AI and digital platforms on supervision relationships. The theme is thus sufficiently broad to theorise, report, discuss and debate research on postgraduate supervision in its entire relational complexity and variety. All topics and strands (specifics to be announced later) will therefore focus on the inevitability of everyday realities that supervisors, (post)graduate students, graduate schools, and institutions of higher education face.

The conference will start on Wednesday, 26 March and closes at lunchtime on Friday 28 March 2025. On Tuesday, 25 March, several half-day pre-conference workshops will be facilitated for which conference participants can register separately.

Important Dates:

First call for abstracts: 06 May 2024
Final submission date for abstracts: 30 September 2024
Final date for feedback to all authors of abstracts: 21 October 2024
Final submission date for amended abstracts: 04 November 2024
Closing date for early registration: 24 January 2025
Final date for late registration: 03 March 2025
Final submission of full papers (for conference publication): 21 April 2025

For registration and other enquiries:

Contact: Robyn Midlane at