Monday, April 15, 2013

Canadian Graduate Education in the News

Canadian graduate education has been all over the news lately. A number of recent articles have stirred the pot, so to speak, on a number of debates going on in the higher education arena, particularly with regards to times to completion and the poor job market new Ph.D.'s are currently facing. At Queen's, the dean of the School of Graduate Studies responded to a column expressing concern over a new policy that aimes to lower graduate student times to completion. Meanwhile, Speculative Diction blogger Melonie Fullick revisits the job crisis and the purpose of doctoral education in a Globe and Mail article

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

PhD Reform?

Attention has been drawn to doctoral education in the popular media lately. An article and blog post in University Affairs call for PhD reform in Canada, prompted by the release of exclusive date on completion rates and times to completion that have not been published elsewhere. While this data is not comprehensive, representing only eight of the 15 top research-intensive universities- none of them identified, it helps to create a picture, of what has been termed elsewhere the ‘crisis’ in doctoral education. This data, provided by a group of the country’s leading research-intensive universities, known as the U-15, shows that of a 2001 PhD cohort, 55.8% of those in humanities, and 65.1% of social science students completed their programs, compared to 78.3% in the health sciences and 75.4% in the physical sciences. Times to completion were also highest in these disciplines, with humanities students taking, on average, 18.25 terms, or just over six years, and those in social science programs averaging 17 terms. This data substantiates earlier research that found that fewer than half of those who start a doctoral program in the humanities and social sciences actually graduate; these faculties have the lowest completion rates at both the master’s and doctoral degree levels. Doctoral students in these fields of study are also reported to have the longest times to completion, with averages hovering around 77 months, according to statistics released by the Canadian Association of University Teachers.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Graduate Student Professional Development

A new report has recently been released by the Canadian Association of Graduate Students (CAGS). Drawing on findings from earlier reports and studies, as well as survey that was administered to graduate deans across the country, the report highlights the increasing importance of prioritizing professional skills training for graduate students that goes beyond discipline-specific knowledge.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Canadian Graduate Student Satisfaction with Academic Experience and Student Life

A new report released today by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) shows that graduate students remain satisfied with their education, although satisfaction has dropped slightly since 2007. Using data from the 2007 and 2010 Canadian Graduate and Professional Student Survey (CGPSS), the report explores what influences graduate students’ satisfaction with their universities, programs of study, academic experiences and faculty supervisors; what influences students’ perceptions of the quality of teaching and learning; and how graduate student satisfaction levels differed between 2007 and 2010. The report uses data from 15 Ontario universities in 2007 and 17 in 2010. While the satisfaction levels of doctoral students have decreased slightly, the study showed greater satisfaction with the quality of professional skills development they received in 2010 compared to 2007. This may suggest the success of some institutions’ initiatives – such as the Graduate Professional Skills (GPS) Program at the University of Toronto. Policy recommnendations suugest that the government continue to work with universities and their graduate deans to promote and support initiatives and best practices that improve graduate student preparation for the labour market.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Graduate Student and Faculty Trends from the CAUT Almanac

Some interesting tidbits from the 2012-13 CAUT Almanac: In 2009-10, women accounted for 54% of degree enrollment at the Master's level (down from 56% last year); holding steady at 47% at the Ph.D. level for 2009-2010. In 2010, 44,919 master's, and 5,736 degrees were awarded in Canada. Women accounted for 61.5% of Master's degrees; 44.3% of Doctorates that were awarded for 2009-2010. In 2011, 2,034 new full-time university teachers were appointed in Canada. 44.2% were women. The proportion of full-time university teachers employed beyond the age of 65 more than quadrupled between 2001 and 2011, to 5.1% of males and 3.8% of females. The number of 'senior' full-time university teachers exceeded the number of 'junior' teachers in 2010-11: 5.7% were within the 30-34 age bracket; 5.8% were between 65-69 years of age.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Graduate Student Life Initiative

McMaster University has once again stepped up to the plate where graduate students are involved, starting up the Graduate Student Life Initiative. The brainchild of the Graduate Student Services Committee, comprised of individuals from Student Affairs, Graduate Studies, and the Graduate Students' Association,the goal is to determine the needs of graduate students and develop a framework to meet those needs. Prompted by feedback from a survey conducted by the Student Success Centre, key areas of concern have been identified, such as time management skills; academic support; and employment and career advice. Two years ago, McMaster created the position of assistant dean of Graduate Student Life and Research Training, the first of its kind at a Canadian university. That position is currently filled by Peter Self. Graduate student enrolment at the university currently stands at over 4,000 students, an increase of over 75% since 2000. But McMaster has made it clear that the management and servicing of this growing student population is a key priority, along with recruitment efforts, setting a great example for other Canadian universities to follow. Let's hope that they do.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Congress 2012

This weekend I am headed off to Wilfrid Laurier and the University of Waterloo for Congress, the annual convention of the social sciences and humanities in Canada. I will be attending meetings and conference proceedings for the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education (CSSHE) and the Canadian Sociological Association (CSA). I will be part of a panel discussion for graduate students on publishing, presenting a poster on graduate student transitions, and giving a presentation on access and retention in higher education.