Working together to advance the well-being of graduate students

Jeff CaselloJeff Casello
Associate Vice-President, Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs

 


The University of Waterloo is an institution that facilitates and promotes academic excellence.  You, our Graduate Students, are integral parts of that.

We value all that you do to support and prepare our students and our community. You are critical to the delivery of the University’s educational mission as you lead and support undergraduate learning. We recognize that.

You advance the creation and application of new knowledge through your impassioned and impactful research. We acknowledge that Waterloo’s position as a research intensive University is made possible by the imaginative explorations that you and your supervisors conduct.  

Against this background, I have been working with your leadership and the University’s senior leaders to advance the well-being of Graduate Students, particularly around your financial support and teaching commitments. 

Together, we are finding solutions.

As a result of combined efforts to support GSA-UW members, Deans’ Council approved in June a number of commitments for our Graduate Students. Those commitments, which are focused on improving financial support and access to resources, can be found below.

Beyond financial matters, the University has invested substantively in resources to provide appropriate supports for graduate students, both within and outside of Faculties.

These commitments, of course, are not the end. 

Collectively, Graduate Students and University representatives have developed a draft of Policy 30 that governs the relationship between Graduate Students serving as TAs.  This Policy is predicated on collegial relationships, facilitated by open lines of communication, and mutual respect for all stakeholders’ goals.  Policy 30 will be entering its formal review process in coming weeks.

We cherish the positive and productive relationship we all share.  We strongly encourage you to continue to engage with us as we work together to improve the Graduate Student experience at the University, to fully realize the commitments made by the Deans’ Council, and to address other issues of mutual interest.

University commitments regarding existing business practices and graduate students

  1. The University is committed to ensuring Graduate Students receive their financial support without delay and consistent with the following schedule of disbursement:
    1. For TA-ships, support will be processed monthly, normally beginning at the end of the first month of term;
    2. For RA-ships, support will normally be processed not later than the end of the month in which the RA-ship begins;
    3. For GRSs, support will be processed in full in the first month of term;
    4. For other awards, disbursement will take place according to the terms of the award; 
    5. In the case where a TA-ship is coupled with another scholarship or award, the TA-ship will be processed as in case a) above, while the award will be processed as in case d) above. Moreover, the University is committed to communicating the structure and timing of student support as transparently as possible.
  2. The University is committed to ensuring that each Graduate Student is supported appropriately for the contribution they make in delivering the University's core educational functions. Specifically, if a Graduate Student is acting as a sessional instructor, the Graduate Student shall receive at a minimum the sessional rate.
  3. The University is aware that in some cases, Graduate Student support in the first month of term is automatically applied to tuition and fees, leaving a student with no net support for that month. The University is committed to exploring options by which the timing of student support can be coordinated with the charging of tuition and fees to avoid this situation.
  4. The University is committed to being actively engaged in supporting Graduate Students for whom the requirements of their TA-ships exceed the predefined expectations. Graduate Student TAs and instructors are encouraged to engage in regular conversations regarding TAs’ time allocations and when appropriate, adjust requirements to be respectful of the total expectations. In cases where students and instructors cannot reach a resolution, graduate officers and Faculty Associate Deans are eager to be made aware of TAs’ concerns and when appropriate will support students in the achieving a timely resolution.
  5. The University has assessed and is committed to continuing to monitor student support levels with special attention to a. Situating the University’s funding levels relative to peer institutions; 
    1. Assessing changes in the University’s minimum funding levels taking into account students’ costs – tuition, fees, shelter and other expenses.
  6. In cases where Graduate Students experience (non-financial) challenges in their academic programs, the University and Faculties are committed to supporting those students through Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (GSPA), the Faculties’ Associate Deans Graduate Studies, and other offices on campus (e.g., HREI, SSO, Campus Wellness).