Senate Summed Up//

Senate Summed Up: 2022/23 external reviews report raises concerns about graduate funding

On December 13, the Senate gathered for the last meeting of the year. Senators approved items from committees and raised discussion regarding this year’s annual reports on Research and Innovation, and External Reviews.

Here’s what you might’ve missed.

New admissions requirements, awards and courses

Senate approved a proposal from Admissions Committee regarding revised admissions requirements for the Bachelor of Kinesiology program.

Several new awards and bursaries were also approved, including the Arrow Group Award in Sustainable Business, Wthe heaton Precious Metals Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Award in Mining and the Scotiabank Award in Family Practice for Indigenous Students.

The Senate also approved a series of new courses, including a language course in topics in Chinese language skill development, a revised music course in historical performance practice, and an introduction to the religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

2022/23 annual report on external reviews raises concerns about graduate funding

Provost Gage Averill presented the 2022/23 Report on External Reviews.

The annual report outlines findings, recommendations and responses to an independent review of academic units such as faculties and departments conducted during the previous year.

Limitations of graduate funding were once again raised, this time with regards to doctoral funding conventionally being designated for a four-year period though many students now tend to complete their programs over a longer timeline.

In discussion, senators also noted a lack of graduate student accessibility and allotted resources towards the Ombuds Office.

Averill said that a four-year tuition packet is just one graduate-level funding mechanism, and that the full scope of program budgeting is often a combination of this packet, supervisor grants and national student awards.

He also said the Office of Graduate Studies and the Ombuds Office have also been engaging in training on graduate-supervisor relationships to improve student satisfaction and success.

The annual research and innovation report focuses on collaboration and knowledge exchange

VP Research and Innovation Dr. Gail Murphy presented the annual Research and Innovation report. The portfolio outlines research objectives and values and highlights the diverse breadth of work conducted across both campuses.

“Almost 10,000 projects and 3,000 filings of patents are facilitated by staff and the portfolio,” said Murphy.

Two initiatives intended to improve knowledge exchange were an expansion of the Research Excellence Clusters program through grants and increasing cross-campus collaboration and resource accessibility with the Collaborative Research Mobility Awards. Murphy said these allow researchers to come together to collaborate on key societal and cultural problems.

Murphy said that a number of changes have been made to funding for the Research Excellence Clusters program as a result of reviewed recommendations. The report also outlines the need for strengthening shared research infrastructure and resources.

Related to this point, Senate also approved a proposal from the Research & Scholarship Committee chair to revise Policy V-5 of the Research Centres & Institutes to diversify inclusion criteria regarding what qualifies as a research institution.

Questions surrounding the report pertained to graduate student funding at the federal level, as well as the expansion of post-pandemic undergraduate research opportunities.

Murphy pointed out that funding for higher level research is a continuing priority for Universities Canada, and that UBC graduate student representatives have been in conversation with the Minister of Finance.

“The message is constantly being taken,” she said.

With respect to student research opportunities, Murphy added UBC is collaborating with the AMS to consider ideas for supporting student research experiences, and with the Provost Office and VP Students to seek out other opportunities to fund research experiences across all disciplines.

“We're happy to engage in further conversation on ideas people have for ensuring that we increase the number of research experiences and also make sure that they're accessible to all of the students at UBC.”

Fiona Sjaus author

Features Editor

  • See more from Fiona Sjaus