University establishes working group for graduate experience

Report to be presented in May of 2019  

The working group’s report will be made available in May. 
Journal File Photo

A new working group is in the process of drafting recommendations that could potentially change the graduate experience at Queen’s.

The group aims to explore possible ways of improving the graduate student experience through a better understanding of graduate studies at the University. They’ll seek to propose recommendations that could potentially affect 4,000 graduate students.  

Currently, 125 graduate programs enroll 18 per cent of Queen’s total student population—the second largest concentration of graduate students in Ontario, and the second highest proportion of full-time graduate students among Ontario research-intensive universities.

Communications and Post-Doctoral Training Graduate Coordinator Rebecca Hügler, Project Coordinator and Professional Development Programming Intern Heather Merla, and Associate Dean Betsy Donald spoke to The Journal about the trajectory of the working group.

They said “periodically reviewing policies, resources, and the student experience” is integral to ensuring the student experience is the best it can be.

Group objectives include intensifying the research culture and ensuring students can meet the timeline of their graduate goals.

Hügler, Merla, and Donald also outlined a focus on “opportunities for professional development and experiential learning” as well as “graduate-supervisor relationships.”

Originating at a March of 2018 Board of Trustees and Senate retreat, the group was created by Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf shortly after.

The talks at the retreat spoke to the dynamic nature of graduate programs nationally and internationally.

As the workforce, student demography, funding, technology, and the reasons students choose graduate programs continue to evolve in Canada’s current research landscape, the task force looks to ensure the University’s programs are up to standards.

Engaging with the graduate services allows the University to understand the day-to-day experiences of their students. Adjustments can be made from there.

After the idea was first pitched, it was put on hold until the new Vice Provost and Dean Fahim Quadir, began his tenure. During this time, and until its first announcement and meeting in January of 2019, the group was in its planning stages, which included recruiting and creating guidelines and objectives.

The working group will consult with graduate students, SGPS staff, faculty, graduate program coordinators and assistants, senior administrators, and others involved with graduate education at Queen’s over the Winter term.

It will inquire on what creates graduate student success, student satisfaction, and access to financial and mental health services and opportunities, among other factors.

The goal is to identify areas where the programs offered by SGS can be improved, and current programs that graduate students find particularly helpful.

The working group plans to include short-, medium- and long-term goals, as well as recommendations based on their findings. These goals and recommendations will reflect both graduate institutions and programs, and will culminate in a report presented to the Principal this coming May.

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