PhD Student, Tina Fransman, Wins Prestigious Medal for Economics Master’s Thesis




When she was in primary school, Tina Fransman got an award for being the top learner. This trend of hard work and achievement followed her into high school, continued into university and not only led her to pursue a PhD, but also won her the 2018 Founders’ Medal for Best Economics Master’s Thesis.

Tina received the award from the Economics Society of South Africa whose members include CEO’s, Cabinet Ministers, Governors of the Reserve Bank, and leading economists. The purpose of the award is to recognise economics students whose research is considered to be unique and “of outstanding quality”. Tina is indeed a young person of outstanding quality, having racked up an impressive list of achievements.

In primary school, she received awards for being the top achiever and she was the Head Girl of the Prefects. In High School, she was also a prefect and yes, she also received awards which included the Top Achiever Award and the Principal’s Award for “making an outstanding contribution to the ethos of the school”.  She was also an active member of the softball team and the squash team.

In her second year at university, she performed so well that became a registered member of the Golden Key International Honour Society. After completing her third year degree, she received a Certificate of Merit from ‘Economic Research Southern Africa’. She was recognised for her ‘Meritorious Performance in Economics’ as a result of being placed second in her third year of study. Not only did she graduate with honours after completing her 4th year Honours degree, but she also received an award for completing the top honours thesis in her class. And of course, her efforts eventually culminated in her winning the medal for her Master’s thesis.

Of the medal, Tina admits that she did not expect to win and “literally started shaking” when she received the letter that confirmed it. She is however proud of the fact that she managed to complete her master’s thesis while working her first full-time job. She says that she decided to work and do her masters at the same time because she wanted to pay for her own studies.

Tina credits her UWC Professor, Derek Yu, for having played a major role in winning the medal. Describing her as determined and hardworking, Derek says that the Economics Department is very impressed with and proud of Tina because getting the medal is not easy. She was in competition with the best economics students at the various universities across the country, and this medal basically confirms her to be the best of the best.

Tina’s thesis was focused on the problem of poverty. She used the ‘Multidimensional poverty index’ to determine both the current levels of poverty, the changes in poverty levels and the reasons which contributed towards poverty. The reason that she received the medal for this thesis is because her approach to analysing poverty was unique and original. The results of her thesis were published in the academic journal, Development Southern Africa, under the title, ‘Multidimensional poverty in South Africa in 2001–16’. She also contributed to the published academic paper, ‘Underemployment in South Africa’. This is however not the end of Tina’s story of continually reaching higher and higher.

As a result of being recognised as one of the best of the best, she was awarded a scholarship to pursue her PhD at Stellenbosch University. Although she is not sure as to what her final topic will be, her desire to help solve the problems of the country will most likely see her focusing on the topic of poverty again. The future will be determined by young, hardworking people who are passionate about helping people, and thankfully, Tina Fransman is one of them.

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