Queen’s makes a grab for grads

University tries to reach graduate student targets in bid to secure government funding

Queen’s has a ways to go if it wants to meet its projected quota of graduate students by the 2009-10 school year. Although the School of Graduate Studies and Research met its enrollment target for doctoral students, it fell four per cent short of it master’s enrollment target.

Meeting this target, set by the provincial government, could determine the amount of government funding graduate programs get over the next few years.

Principal Karen Hitchcock said most schools in Ontario are having more difficulty than anticipated in filling their graduate spaces.

“Missing our target by a little is actually quite good in the context of the rest of the province.”

She said the University will continue to recruit students across the country through graduate school fairs and promoting new programs.

She said the master’s of neuroscience, one of Queen’s most recent additions to the list of programs, is growing rapidly. Master’s programs within the School of Business are also exceeding their enrollment targets by 24 people.

“Clearly the programs we’re developing or have developed are garnering quite good reception,” she said.

Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Research Janice Deakin said the University has been making a concerted effort to promote graduate studies since the province’s Reaching Higher plan for post-secondary education was announced in 2005.

The McGuinty government announced a plan to increase graduate school enrollment by 12,000 spaces in the 2007-08 school year, adding 2,000 more in 2009-10 and investing $220 million each year until 2010. Queen’s share of the first 12,000 was 542 master’s spaces and 147 PhD spaces. If the University can meet its target, it can apply to the provincial government for a share of the 14,000 new spots that will be opened up. The University received funding to support the students and programs in the School of Graduate Studies for each of the new spots it was given in 2005 and will receive more for any additional spaces it’s allowed to open in 2010.

“The reasoning in some ways is that the grant, it’s an opportunity the government had provided to increase numbers and revenue,” Deakin said.

She said the government also looks at program availability and potential for growth when deciding which universities will get money.

An increase in graduate studies places and funding will make it easier for the program to grow. Deakin said the University’s looking at ways to expand the graduate studies program by creating new master’s and doctoral programs.

“There are other departments that are interested in new grad programs.” She said the University’s considering making a master’s of global development program and a master’s in women’s studies. She said new programs depend on student interest and faculty availability.

A new master’s degree wouldn’t necessarily require a lot of money to start up, Deakin said.

“The cost of a program depends on whether or not teaching capacity exists within the department.”

New programs must be vetted by Senate and then get approval from the Ontario Council of Graduate Studies.

Deakin said she doesn’t believe there’s a tension between graduate and undergraduate students. Investing in graduate studies benefits all Queen’s students, she said.

“A research-intensive university that has a good graduate program attracts the best faculty.” Deakin said Ontario produces some of the country’s best graduate students.

“Grad studies at Queen’s, I think, benefit from working with a bright and engaged undergraduate population.”

Enrollment by the numbers (2007)

13,445

total undergraduate students enrolled

2,569

total students enrolled in the School of Graduate Studies and Research

1,517

master’s students

1,035

PhD students

six per cent

increase in Graduate Studies enrollment

seven per cent

increase in master’s program enrollment

five per cent

increase in PhD program enrollment

1,958

master’s students Queen’s hopes to have by 2009-10

1,130

PhD students Queen’s hopes to have by 2009-10

Source: Queen’s University: Enrollment (head count) report 2007-2008

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