Think beyond your horizons – Postgraduate Open Day 2015

Annette Willemse -- Thu, 07/09/2015 - 13:48

Think beyond your horizons – Postgraduate Open Day 2015

The first-ever Vaal Triangle Campus of the North-West University (NWU Vaal) Postgraduate Open Day is set to take place on Saturday, 15 August 2015. Having said this, you might wonder why you should choose to enrol for a postgraduate qualification. There are as many answers to this question as there are postgraduate students!

You may enjoy a certain subject and want to explore it at an advancement level, such as a master’s or a doctoral degree or busy yourself with postgraduate research. In the difficult economic climate, you may decide that an additional qualification will improve your career prospects, making you an asset to your employer or a better interview candidate. Many employers look for the advanced knowledge and skills of postgraduates, as well as the commitment they have demonstrated in achieving a further qualification. In terms of professional qualifications it is essential to remember that continuing professional development represents a vital necessity.

According to Prof Linda du Plessis, Vice-Rector of the NWU Vaal, postgraduate study can prove to be an exciting route to advancing within the sphere of an existing career as well as opening up new employment opportunities.  “I believe that this event and your interest in furthering your studies will not only contribute towards the strengthening of our research capacity, but will also aid in producing the advanced skills that our country so desperately needs,” says Prof Du Plessis.

It is important to note that you have to register online to attend the event. You can also learn more about the programme for the day and the different venues that will be used.

Areas of specialisation at the NWU Vaal

The NWU Vaal boasts with two Research Focus Areas – UPSET and OPTENTIA, and one Research Niche Area, namely: MuST.

UPSET (Understanding and processing languages in complex settings)

Language practice (translation, editing, subtitling, interpreting and even more) is one of the complex settings in which this focus area works. Researchers want to know how texts travel from one environment and in one code to another, while making sense (or not), and how these various texts that are transmitted enable people to participate in society and academia with greater ease.

UPSET embraces the multilingual nature of South African society, and assume that most societies are multilingual. The research on language acquisition, maintenance, policy, teaching, reading and writing and academic literacy is embedded in the multilingual context in which we live. South Africa provides an excellent laboratory of language contact settings in which indigenous and colonial languages come into contact, and influence one another.

The ultimate aim of UPSET is to deepen understanding of the interdependence of language and human cognition. UPSET’s approach is to explore from a psycholinguistic angle how language is understood and processed in two subfields of linguistics. The first is language practice, referring to editing, proofreading and translation, as well as audio-visual translation. The second subfield is multilingualism, which is broadly based on sociolinguistics.

* UPSET is vested within the Faculty of Humanities


Why do some individuals, institutions and societies flourish while others do not, even in similar circumstances? This is the fundamental question that Optentia seeks to address. Optentia, based within the Faculty of Humanities, develops and organizes knowledge for the optimal expression of individual, social and institutional potential. It has a specific interest in the African context and draws on various social sciences disciplines, including psychology, industrial/organizational psychology, educational psychology, sociology, educational sciences, employment relations and social work.

MuST (Multilingual Speech Technologies)

Multilingual Speech Technologies (MuST) is a research niche area of the Vaal Triangle Campus of the North-West University, consisting mainly of engineers and computer scientists actively involved in speech technology and pattern recognition research. The research group collaborates in various local and international research projects, working with partners and clients from industry, government and NGOs.

Computer systems that can listen and speak to humans are becoming more and more common. Such systems answer telephones, provide requested information, type dictated documents, and assist people in many different ways on a daily basis. In the USA alone, several million customers of banks, airlines and search companies are served by speech recognition systems every day. But what if the languages spoken are not English, but rather, one of the 3,000 languages spoken in Africa?

This is where the MuST research group focuses its efforts. They create speech technologies for the less-resourced languages of the world, and try to find new ways of doing this quickly and cost-effectively. In order to be able to build these systems, they have to answer many questions: How can our systems be made to understand the many different accents within a single language? How do people pronounce proper names they have never heard before? How can we capture and understand the essence of a language from a limited set of speech samples?

NWU Postgraduate Open Days

On the 15th of August all three campuses of the North-West University (NWU) will be hosting postgraduate open days and during these not-to-be-missed events, prospective postgraduate students can familiarise themselves with the University’s framework for training, study support, and career preparation. “Whether you are new to the NWU or already a student of one of our campuses, the Postgraduate Open Day is an ideal opportunity to learn more about our postgraduate offerings, our research capabilities, and to meet our highly-sought after staff and current students,” explains Prof Du Plessis.