• Petitioned Graduate Studies Executive Council (GSEC) at Queen's University

This petition was delivered to:

Graduate Studies Executive Council (GSEC) at Queen's University

Graduate Studies Executive Council (GSEC) at Queen's University: Vote Against Policy Changes: Time-To-Completion and Limit Extension Times

    1. Alexandra Pedersen
    2. Petition by

      Alexandra Pedersen

      Kingston, Canada

Subject: Proposed Policy Changes: Time-To-Completion and Time Limit Extensions

Dear Members of the Graduate Studies Executive Council (GSEC),

I have just signed a petition urging the GSEC to vote against the motion to reduce time-to-completion and time limit extensions for Master’s and Doctoral Graduate Students at Queen’s University. While I recognize it is possible to finish a Master’s degree in two (2) years and a Doctoral degree in four (4) years, there are many factors that make completing any graduate degree difficult. These circumstances must be heard and taken into account when making decisions that affect graduate students at Queen’s University.

In a recent survey released on October 16th, 2012 (“What action could government and universities take to ensure that PhD students graduate in a reasonable time frame?”), graduate students were asked to respond to questions about factors affecting time-to-completion. The results of this survey have yet to be published and disseminated to graduate students. It is unethical to make a decision that directly impacts students without first publishing these results. The survey emphasized funding and supervisor relationships as the main determinants of completion “in a reasonable time frame.” These are key determinants of students’ program completion, yet this is a narrow understanding of the multiplicity of factors affecting graduate research and completion times.

Some of the challenges faced by graduate students provide motivation to complete their studies on time, while others compromise a student’s ability to meet institutional requirements. These include, but are not limited to: financial limitations, funding expectations, mental and physical health (including invisible disabilities and chronic/acute illness), family commitments, student-supervisor relationships, availability of committee members, field research limitations, unanticipated research setbacks, equipment problems, and teaching/professional development expectations, among other circumstances. As a member of an academic institution that claims to embrace equity and show concern for students’ mental health, you must take seriously these challenges experienced by our diverse graduate student population.

As a graduate student directly affected by the proposed motions, I demand the following:

1) The results of the above-mentioned survey be made public;
2) The two (2) motions be made public, more transparent, and include further discussions with graduate students;
3) Greater transparency of the decision-making process for determining what constitutes “extenuating circumstances”, and “valid reasons as determined by the Department or Program” regarding extensions;
4) Critical discussions evaluating how these changes will affect Graduate students’ withdrawal rates, mental health and wellness (related to Queen’s four (4) point policy on Mental Health), and the overall quality of research produced at Queen’s;
5) The creation of a working group that includes graduate students, faculty, and staff to discuss issues regarding time-to-completion and provide recommendations to GSEC.

As a graduate student, and for reasons outlined in this letter, I urge you to vote against the two (2) graduate completion limit motions.


Recent signatures


    1. Over 550 Supporters So Far!

      Alexandra Pedersen
      Petition Organizer

      Congratulations everyone, the petition is picking up speed as we propel towards Thursday's GSEC Meeting! The following event scheduled to help further the cause!

      Silent protest against proposed time to completion regulations for graduate degrees
      When: Thursday, March 14, 2:00pm-2:30pm
      Where: Gordon Hall, both outside and in 4th floor hallway
      Who: Queen's Grads and friends of Queen's graduate students
      What to bring: A sign if you can (ideas listed below), but sign or no, your presence will be valued

      On Thursday March 14, members of the Graduate Studies Executive Council (GSEC) will meet in Gordon Hall, room 401 to vote on two motions that propose mandatory time limits of 4 years for a doctoral degree and 2 years for a master's degree, with the possibility of a maximum of 2 extensions if a student can prove extenuating circumstances and with departmental approval.

      Facebook Events Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/261968660609427/?ref=25

    2. Reached 500 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • Dean Bavington ST. JOHN'S, CANADA
      • over 1 year ago

      Time ought not to be understood as a resource or stick to use against students. Time limits are simply being used to concentrate more organizational power in the admin/managerial class at universities across the country.

    • Emma Dargie KINGSTON, CANADA
      • over 1 year ago

      If the university expects us to complete within a certain amount of time, then they are going to have to adjust their expectations for completion.

    • Wesley Burr KINGSTON, CANADA
      • over 1 year ago

      It's a ridiculous policy that will harm a large number of people for no gain.

    • Aaron Springford KINGSTON, ONTARIO, CANADA
      • over 1 year ago

      Waving a big stick will not solve the problem of extended graduation times. Increasing student support and reducing time-consuming and needless graduation requirements so that students can focus on their research is what is needed. Queen's needs to realize that enacting draconian time limits on completion will put it at a competitive disadvantage when attracting and retaining graduate students, especially given the current climate of faculty attrition. It's hardly believable that the administration can be so blind to the value that graduate students bring to academia, but the recent evidence is very compelling.

    • Kate Sutton TORONTO, CANADA
      • over 1 year ago

      Because it infringes on the ability to do high quality research and limits the CVs of students applying to academia in the future.


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