Provost speaks on reinvestment
At the Post-Graduate Students’ Society (PGSS) Council meeting last Wednesday, Provost Anthony Masi spoke on the provincial government’s proposed reinvestment of approximately $1.7 billion in the Quebec university network over the next five years.
According to Masi, the reinvestment is more accurately described as a reimbursement of cuts faced by universities in the past year, although universities will be constrained in the way they spend the money.
“Around $20 million dollars will be back [in our budgets], but we have to spend it on very much restricted items,” he said. “[For example], the quality of undergraduate education, support for students with financial needs, support for students coming from backgrounds that are not traditional [….] Almost everything is driven in the undergrad.”
Of the total amount being invested in universities across the province, $954 million is the continuation of a policy by the previous Liberal Government to increase university budgets, and a further $810 million will be to compensate for the money universities lost when the Parti Québécois’ rescinded the previous government’s tuition increases.
The first round of reinvestment, valued at $20 million for McGill, is scheduled for the 2015 fiscal year.
Update on supervision reform
PGSS Secretary-General Jonathan Mooney detailed the progress on the introduction of supervisor training, which prepares new professors on how to oversee students. Mooney said there are plans for a formal review of the process in March.
In the previous academic year, the PGSS conducted a survey for graduate students and professors to determine areas of conflict and discrepancies between perceptions of supervisory relationships by both parties. The survey found a few points of divergence, such as varying perceptions of conflict resolution.
“Most responding supervisors claimed that their conflicts were satisfactorily resolved (75 per cent),” the survey overview reads. “Only 34 per cent of [students] agreed with them.”
Furthermore, the survey demonstrated a difference between the ways both parties found themselves informed of their supervisor’s absence.
“Around 95 per cent of responding supervisors reported that they informed their [students] about short- and long-term commitments away from the university,” the overview reads. “In contrast, only 68 per cent of supervisees said that their supervisors informed them about being away.”
As a result, the survey prompted a number of recommendations to improve such relationships, including reform to introduce training and workshops for new supervisors.
“The dean of graduate studies [has] committed to moving forward with a lot of major reforms to supervision at McGill,” Mooney said. “Among those are making sure every new professor at McGill gets training and education on how to properly supervise students. This is something that we hope comes forward in March for formal approval.”
Masi also stressed the importance of professor-student relations at a research-oriented university such as McGill, and detailed the steps the university has already taken to improve supervision.
“Supervision is the single most important problem that we face at university,” Masi said. “Graduate students are a little more than a quarter of our population and […] the majority of those issues have to do with supervision [….] Research can’t be conducted without the support that professors get from grad students, and graduate students can’t do their work on their thesis unless they are supervised.’’
Erratum: a previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the provincial government plans to reinvest approximately $1.7 billion in the McGill budget. In fact, this amount will be reinvested in the Quebec university network. The Tribune regrets this error.