Time limit imposed

Graduate students will have to complete their degrees in shorter times

As of yesterday, Queen’s will impose time limits on students completing graduate degrees.

The decision was passed at a Graduate Studies Executive Council meeting yesterday afternoon with 10 votes in favour and four against. The motion mandates that students will have a maximum of two years to complete their Masters degree and four years to complete their PhDs.

A motion was also brought forward to give students the chance to extend these limits in special circumstances, but the motion was tabled until April.

According to data collected by the U15, a group of 15 research-intensive Canadian universities, it takes on average five to six years to complete a PhD program, depending on the field.

Prior to the motion, Queen’s students had to have completed their Masters degrees within five years of the time of registration. For PhD programs, the limit is seven years.

The University of Guelph and Wilfred Laurier University also held similar discussions on implementing time constraints for degrees, according to Brenda Brouwer, vice-provost of graduate studies.

“For a number of years this has been on the radar nationally and provincially,” she said.

She added that all graduate programs are designed to be completed in two and four years for Masters and PhD programs, respectively.

“Those completion times were stretched over the years,” she said.

“That is undesirable, I can’t image a student wanting to [work on their degree] for eight years.” The school of Graduate Studies offers workshops for time management and dissertation, she noted.

According to Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) representatives, imposing a time limit will affect the quality of research produced by students.

PSAC represents over 180,000 public service employees across Canada, including teaching assistants, teaching fellows and post doctorate fellows.

“We have course requirements, research requirements, ethics requirements, attending conferences, and publishing papers,” A.W. Lee, PSAC occupational health and safety officer said.

“Now they are asking us to do them in a shorter amount of time.”

Christine Grossutti, PSAC’s vice-president of community affairs, added that a lot of students have families to take care or jobs to maintain so they can pay their tuition.

The same concerns were echoed from SGPS Vice-President (Graduate) Becky Pero, who is one of two graduate students that sit on the Council. “We are expected to produce novel and innovated research and research takes time,” she said.

In the fall, the SGPS conducted a survey designed to engage students on the issue.

“[It] talked about what incentives do [grad students] need to complete on time and what detracts from that,” she said. “There were about 460 responses and we have approximately 4,400 students.” The SGPS hasn’t received the results of their survey yet.

She claimed there was no attempt from the administration to help the graduate students understand why the motion was put forward.

Last summer the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities sent out a paper that recommended time limits on degrees, Pero said.

“I think [the motion] is coming from the ministry level,” she said “[The administration] is trying to be in line with what the ministry put forward.”

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