BACKGROUND : Undergraduate students as a group are well researched, with focus on enhancing
student engagement and improving learning and teaching methods. However, working
postgraduate students have become a growing trend in the higher education sector, with little
known about their experience. The purpose of this research is to better understand and to gain
insight into the inter-role conflict experienced by postgraduate students owing to managing
the multiple roles of work, personal life and studies. This article reports the case study of a
coaching intervention administered to a group of postgraduate students over a 5-month
period. The study concludes that the inclusion of a coaching intervention to assist postgraduate
students in dealing with inter-role stress can no longer be ignored. Coaching support is an
authentic way to support these students, with benefits reaching beyond the classroom.
RESEARCH PURPOSE : The purpose of this research is to better understand the inter-role conflict
emanating from managing work, personal life and studies, and to gain insight into the role of
coaching as a support function.
MOTIVATION FOR THE STUDY : There is limited research focusing on the experiences of postgraduate
students, who are often working either part-time or full-time while pursuing their studies, and
navigating three overlapping role domains simultaneously. Furthermore, even less is known
about coaching as a support function to strike a balance between these three demanding roles.
RESEARCH, APPROACH AND METHOD : This study is qualitative in nature. A coaching
intervention over a 5-month period was used to assist postgraduate students in managing
MAIN FINDINGS : The study suggests that coaching can be used as a method to address the
interface between work, personal life and study demands for the working postgraduate student. To ensure successful throughput rates in the allocated time, a new support framework
is required to complement the often insufficient academic interventions.
CONTRIBUTION : The contribution of the research is twofold: Firstly, it focuses on working
postgraduate students to gain insight into and a better understanding of the potential of
coaching. Secondly, it highlights coaching as a potential support function. Very little research
exists in the general literature on how to support working postgraduate students in higher
education. The research also shows the potential of coaching as a support function to help
postgraduate students navigate the three demanding role domains.