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DUT’s #FeesMustFall researcher to be honoured for his academic excellence

DUT’s #FeesMustFall researcher to be honoured for his academic excellence

THE Durban University of Technology’s (DUT’s) #FeesMustFall researcher Yaseen Khan will be among DUT students who will be honoured for their academic excellence at DUT’s Virtual Graduation ceremony on Wednesday, 10 June 2020 at 12pm.

Khan will be graduating Cum Laude and he will receive the prestigious Dean’s Merit award when he graduates for his Master’s Degree in Information Communication Technology (MICT) at DUT.

Given the high profile nature of the #FeesMustFall campaign, Khan guided by his supervisor, Dr. Colin Thakur conducted research on online public opinion during the campaign.

“The #FeesMustFall campaign was a unique student-led movement which leveraged Social Media to amplify its cause for a fee-free educational society. It was the first significant digital age South African campaign which later forced the landmark government decision on fee-free education,” said Khan.

His dissertation addresses the research gap of a framework to cost effectively and efficiently analyse Social Media big data. Khan quantitatively analysed the sentiment trends of #FeesMustFall- Twitter tweets since its 2015 beginning resulting in the acquisition of 576 583 tweets, a number impractical to read by any human.

He said it was subjected to a rigorous Data Analytics Lifecycle comprising of Natural Language Processing (NLP), Change Point Analysis (CPA) and social robot (bot) detection techniques. The findings were that bots did indeed play an influential role in the campaign particularly through the volume of tweets.

Khan’s hard work afforded him an invite by the former Deputy and now Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Ms. Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams. He was publicly recognized by parliamentarian for his intriguing research.

He presented the findings on the role of software robots (bots) in #FeesMustFall at the 2018 IEEE conference in Mauritius, the 2018 Nelspruit NEMISA postgraduate seminar and The Digital Being conference in 2018 in Durban.

He co-authored an article titled ‘Who’s tweeting whom?’ about the #FeesMustFall analysis results which was published online at Voices360 in 2019 and he is busy with a journal article and his PhD proposal.

Khan acknowledges Dr. Colin Thakur who was an inspiring supervisor, mentor and hopes that Thakur continues to mentor future students.

Pictured: Yaseen Khan

Simangele Zuma

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