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13.0.2 Graduate Degree Areas of Responsibility 2020/2021

13.0.2 Graduate Degree Areas of Responsibility

A. Graduate Students

Graduate students are ultimately responsible for their own programs. They are expected to read the Calendar and any other relevant documents to become familiar with all regulations and deadlines relating to their programs. The students’ fundamental responsibilities include ensuring that their registration is accurate and does not lapse, submitting appropriate forms to the Faculty of Graduate Studies office for signature and processing, and paying all fees required by the deadline dates set out in the Calendar.
Graduate students should do the following:

  • make themselves aware of the contents of the graduate portions of the Calendar and take responsibility for their own program requirements as specified in the Calendar;
  • maintain open communication with their supervisor and PAC Chair concerning any problem either real or perceived;
  • inform the supervisor regularly about progress;
  • make research results accessible to an appropriate audience;
  • be aware of deadlines for possible scholarship applications, and seek advice and assistance from the MPC Chair in making applications.

B. Supervisors

1. A supervisor for each graduate student will be identified early on in the student’s program and will be reported to Concordia’s Dean of Graduate Studies in a timely fashion.

The timely, clear identification of a supervisor for each graduate student is vital to the student’s success. The supervisor plays a key role in setting the direction of the graduate student’s research. Therefore each graduate program director, in consultation with his or her faculty members, will:

  1. assign a supervisor to each graduate student; and
  2. report details of every assignment to Concordia’s Dean of Graduate Studies.
2. Each supervisor must have a proven track record of experience in supervising graduate students before commencing a supervisory role of a Concordia graduate student.

Every supervisor in a Concordia graduate program must have:

  1. a proven track record of experience supervising graduate students; or
  2. have been mentored in supervision by working with an experienced co‐supervisor; or
  3. taken an approved course on graduate supervision at a major Canadian university before he or she can be assigned to supervise a Concordia graduate student.
3. In those graduate programs that utilize supervisory committees or equivalents, they must be established in the program of the graduate student.

In some graduate programs, a supervisory committee (or an equivalent) is required for a student’s graduate program to:

  1. serve as a supplementary resource for graduate student’s research;
  2. help monitor the program progress of the graduate student;
  3. approve the applied research project, thesis, thesis project, or dissertation for defense; and
  4. play a role in mitigating or managing conflict between supervisor and student should it arise.

In those graduate programs where a supervisory committee is required, each graduate program director, in consultation with his or her faculty members, will:

  1. assign a supervisory committee to each graduate student; and
  2. report details of this assignment to Concordia’s Dean of Graduate Studies.
4. The expectations, roles, and responsibilities of graduate students and supervisors should be made clear.

Every graduate program director, in consultation with his or her faculty members, shall:

  1. develop guidelines on the roles of the supervisor and the graduate student in the program; and
  2. provide a copy of these guidelines to the Dean of Graduate Studies for approval.

After the Dean has approved the said guidelines, the graduate program director shall provide a copy of these guidelines to:

  1. every graduate student in the program; and
  2. every graduate supervisor in the program.

Each program’s guidelines on the roles of the supervisor and the graduate student shall clearly define:

  1. the extent and nature of direction from the supervisor;
  2. the degree of independence of the student;
  3. the frequency, preparation for, and manner in which consultation and feedback will be given by the supervisor;
  4. the frequency of submissions, drafts, and progress reports of written work undertaken by the student;
  5. the role of the supervisor in editing the student’s work;
  6. the manner in which ideological or opinion differences will be handled;
  7. the responsibility of the student to abide by Concordia’s Copyright, Academic Honesty, Intellectual Property, and “Turnitin” policies; and
  8. the importance of academic honesty in the relationship between the student and his or her supervisor, and that this relationship can be irreparably harmed should the student participate in academic dishonesty or plagiarism.

If a particular graduate program requires a written agreement to be signed by the supervisor and the graduate student detailing the issues outlined above, then it is important that each student have informed consent before executing the agreement and is not coerced into signing a contract with which he or she is not in agreement. The agreement must state that it is subject to the written approval of the Dean of Graduate Studies.

A copy of all program guidelines as well as all written agreements with graduate students shall be submitted to the Dean of the Faculty Studies for approval in a timely manner.

5. Supervisors should be readily accessible to their students, and regular monitoring of and feedback to their students should be ensured.

Graduate study can be a very unfamiliar and daunting experience for the new graduate student; this is even more so the case for a foreign student in Canada. Because graduate programs are often less structured than undergraduate programs, it is essential that every supervisor:

  1. be very accessible to his or her graduate student to provide guidance and feedback;
  2. arrange frequent meetings with the graduate student at which academic, research, and other issues are addressed, progress is reviewed, evaluation is provided, and future activities are identified that will be important for the success of the student;
  3. provide a written report on his or her student’s progress that will be submitted to the program director at least once a year (the graduate program director will submit copies of such reports to the Dean of Graduate Studies in a timely manner);
  4. conduct periodic reviews and evaluations of his or her student’s activities and progress on a more informal basis (for example, in office or lab meetings, email communications, and telephone conversations); and
  5. ensure the continuation of quality supervision of the graduate student when the supervisor will be absent from the university for extended periods of time (e.g. on sabbatical or during sick leave). This may necessitate the appointment of a temporary supervisor, which must be approved by the graduate program director, and which must be communicated to the Dean of Graduate Studies within 14 days of the change of supervisor.
6. The relationship between the student and the supervisor must always be professional.

Regardless of how friendly and supportive a supervisor is with his or her student, this relationship must always be academic, professional, and at arm’s length. Relationships that are within arm’s length (for instance, romantic, sexual, or involve family or business ties) are unacceptable between supervisors and students. If a conflict of interest arises between a student and his or her supervisor (for example, when a supervisor develops emotional, financial, and/or business arrangements with the student), then the graduate program director will:

  1. immediately communicate this conflict of interest to the Dean of Graduate Studies;
  2. replace the supervisor with a new supervisor;
  3. provide the Dean of Graduate Studies with the name of a new supervisor within 14 days of the change of supervisor;
  4. meet with the student and the new supervisor to:
    1. advise all parties why the change of supervisor was necessary;
    2. review the progress of the student in the program; and
    3. draft a new supervision plan, in conjunction with the student and the new supervisor; and
  5. provide the Dean of Graduate Studies with a written copy of this new supervision plan within 14 days of the meeting between the student and new supervisor.

Any supervisor participating in a conflict of interest is subject to disciplinary proceedings. A student should not be penalized if a change in supervisor is necessary as a result of the misconduct of the supervisor. In this case, every effort should be made to allow the student to complete the program.

7. Intellectual debate and challenge should be encouraged and supported by every Concordia supervisor.

Academic freedom and intellectual debate are fundamental components of the graduate student experience at Concordia. Therefore, every effort should be made by the Dean of Graduate Studies, every graduate program director, every supervisor, and every graduate student to recognize and acknowledge that robust academic challenges and questioning are normal and healthy aspects of the graduate student experience, as well as important elements in the relationship between the student and his or her supervisor.

To facilitate this academic freedom and intellectual debate, every graduate program director will:

  1. review Concordia’s statement of “Academic Freedom” with new students at every new‐student orientation meeting; and
  2. ensure that every new student in the program receives a written copy of Concordia’s statement of “Academic Freedom.”
8. Concordia supervisors should be mentors to their students.

Supervisors have responsibilities beyond the academic supervision of the research and writing of their graduate students. Although the mentoring role can vary significantly between academic disciplines, and will frequently by determined by the specific needs of the individual graduate student, supervisors should be responsible for mentoring graduate students in areas such as, but not limited to:

  1. the development of appropriate academic and professional skills;
  2. the preparation of applications for funding and grants;
  3. the development of network opportunities with colleagues in academia and the professional world;
  4. the publication of their research; and
  5. the development of their future careers.
9. Issues of intellectual property and authorship should be made clear from the outset of the graduate student’s program.

Supervisors are responsible for informing students about Concordia’s policies that govern intellectual property, and about any specific intellectual property issues that are likely to arise from the student’s research.

Even when issues are not clearly defined in Concordia policies, it is important that students and their supervisors have a discussion and reach an agreement (in writing early on in their relationship, regarding issues that deal with:

  1. rights of authorship;
  2. the order of authorship on multi‐authored publications; and
  3. the ownership of data arising from the research.

Every agreement must state that it is subject to the written approval of the Dean of Graduate Studies.

It is inappropriate for supervisors to ask students to assign their intellectual property rights to the supervisor or anyone else as a condition of pursuing research under the supervision of the supervisor.

10. Conflicts between a student and his or her supervisor should first try to be resolved at the lowest level possible.

Periodically, differences of opinion and conflicts will arise between a supervisor and his or her student. The following procedure will be followed when such conflicts emerge:

  1. The supervisor and student should first attempt to resolve the conflict on their own—so long as both the supervisor and student have voluntarily consented to this process.
  2. If the student or supervisor does not feel comfortable in addressing the problem at the student‐supervisor level, or if after discussing the problem, the student and supervisor cannot find a solution, then they should consider involving the supervisory committee or equivalent (if there is one already in existenc
  3. to address the conflict.
  4. If the problem cannot be resolved at the student‐supervisory committee level, then the graduate program director should be asked to address the conflict. Concordia will endeavor to make appropriate resources available to assist in this process.
  5. If no satisfactory resolution can be found at the graduate program level, then the conflict will be referred to the Dean of Graduate Studies for a solution.
11. Continuity is important in graduate student supervision.

The relationship between the supervisor and his or her student plays a fundamental role in the student’s successful completion of the degree. Continuity of supervision is an integral component of this relationship, since it provides:

  1. stability;
  2. security;
  3. an opportunity to establish sufficient mutual knowledge and trust to facilitate effective intellectual debate; and
  4. an intellectual environment that allows the graduate student to focus on the goals of the graduate program.

The graduate program director must do all that is reasonably expected to facilitate continuity of supervision. In doing so, the graduate program director must only permit a change in supervisor if there are strong and compelling reasons to do so. These reasons include:

  1. a mutually agreed major shift in academic direction of the student’s research;
  2. serious academic disagreements and/or irreconcilable interpersonal conflicts;
  3. a conflict of interest (as discussed above); or
  4. illness of one of the parties.

In some programs, it is common practice to place each new incoming student with an initial or temporary supervisor. In these cases, an appropriate and timely change in supervisors (such as after the student clarifies his or her research interests) is acceptable. A student should not be penalized if a change in supervisor is necessary.

Any change in supervisor must be reported to the Dean of Graduate Studies within 14 days of the change.

12. Graduate students have substantial responsibilities in managing their own graduate education.

Graduate students share in the responsibility for selecting and achieving the goals that they seek in their programs. Graduate students are also responsible for knowing and abiding by the various Concordia policies and procedures that deal with:

  1. academic and research conduct;
  2. intellectual property;
  3. human subjects;
  4. animal welfare;
  5. health and safety;
  6. Research Ethics Board requirements;
  7. copyright policies;
  8. academic honesty;
  9. Turnitin policies; and
  10. Degree requirements, program requirements and timelines.

Students therefore must be proactive and take responsibility for:

  1. ensuring good communication with their supervisor and supervisory committee members;
  2. the meeting of timelines and other program requirements; and
  3. seeking effective advice on academic and other matters.

If problems arise in the supervisory relationship, it may be the student who must take action and seek advice and a remedy from the program, faculty or university.

Concordia’s Faculty of Graduate Studies, the Dean of Graduate Studies, the program directors, and student supervisors are responsible for providing an appropriate environment for high‐quality graduate education, but a student’s success is ultimately in the hands of the student. It is therefore essential that the graduate program director and the student supervisor inform students of their responsibilities, and provide their students with the information and support that they need to carry out their duties and responsibilities. It is the responsibility of the graduate program director to communicate the above‐listed student responsibilities at every new student orientation, and to provide each student with a written copy of these responsibilities.

The successful supervision of graduate students necessitates healthy and productive relationships between the supervisors and their graduate students. At the core of all successful relationships between supervisors and graduate students are mutual respect and professionalism. These core values—when combined with clearly defined roles of students, supervisors, and others participating in the students’ education, and with information on Concordia’s policies and procedures relevant to a student’s graduate program—go a long way to facilitating mutually beneficial relationships between Concordia students and their supervisors.

C. Fees

All graduate fees are indicated in Fees, section 5.0.

D. Academic Appeals

Graduate students may appeal matters of concern regarding Concordia University of Edmonton’s provision of education and academic services affecting their role as students, in accordance with Concordia University of Edmonton’s policies governing student academic appeals, as set out in the Calendar.

1. Informal Appeals

If grievances of an academic nature arise during a graduate program, the student should first attempt to resolve the matter by discussing the grievance with the instructor or supervisor concerned. If the matter is not resolved at this level, the student should consult with the Chair of the Program Appeal Committee (PAC).

Grievances involving the grading of course work come under the authority of the PAC for each Department. If such grievances cannot be resolved by the instructor, the student may request a reappraisal of the grading of course work. This reappraisal shall be administered by the Chair of the PAC, which shall establish its own procedures. Grades may be raised or lowered as a result of the reappraisal. Decisions of the PAC with respect to grades are final and may not be appealed.

2. Formal Appeals

With the exception of the four areas listed at the end of this section, grievances that are not resolved at the PAC level may be appealed to the Dean of Graduate Studies if there is evidence that a miscarriage of justice has occurred. The student must submit a signed letter of appeal to the Dean of Graduate Studies. This letter must include the decision that is being appealed, the grounds for appeal, and the remedy sought by the appellant. The letter must be accompanied by all relevant evidence to support the claim. If the Dean determines that there is no cause for appeal, the appeal will not proceed. If the Dean determines that there is cause for appeal, the Dean will forward the appeal letter and supporting documentation to the Academic Appeals Committee established by the Faculty Council of Graduate Studies.

The Academic Appeals Committee shall consist of three members, as well as a non-voting Chair. Two members of the committee and the Chair shall be faculty members eligible to teach and examine in the Faculty of Graduate Studies. The other member shall be a full-time graduate student in good academic standing and recommended by the Graduate Students’ Association. The non-voting Chair is responsible to ensure appropriate process. No member of the committee may have been previously involved in the case. Decisions of the Academic Appeals Committee are final.

The Academic Appeals Committee shall have no authority to hear an appeal with respect to the following matters in the Faculty of Graduate Studies:

  1. academic decisions regarding the assignment of grades in individual courses;
  2. academic decisions regarding an examination, project evaluation, or thesis defense;
  3. decisions to refuse admission or readmission to the Faculty of Graduate Studies;
  4. decisions relating to the granting of credit for courses taken or to be taken outside of Concordia University of Edmonton.
3. Reappraisal of Final Grades

If a student can provide evidence that a mistake has been made in the calculation of the final grade in a course, the student should follow the Informal Appeals procedure as detailed in section D.1.

A student may apply for a formal reappraisal of a final grade(s) only if he or she can provide evidence that a miscarriage of justice has occurred in the final assessment of the student’s course work.

Without such evidence, the reappraisal will not proceed. The final grade may be raised or lowered as a result of the reappraisal.

There are two levels of appeal. The student must begin with the first level. If the student is dissatisfied with the level-1 decision and the appropriate conditions exist (see below), the student has the right to proceed to a level-2 appeal:

Level 1:
Within fifteen (15) days of the Registrar’s Office posting grades online, the student shall document his or her concerns in writing and discuss them with the instructor. Such reappraisal shall involve a review of the course requirements, together with a check of the computation of weighted components used in calculating the final grade. The instructor will inform the student of changes, if any, in writing as soon as possible.
Level 2:
If the student is not satisfied with the outcome of the appeal to the instructor because the student believes some injustice has been done, or has substantial new evidence that could not be presented to the instructor, he or she shall inform the Registrar’s Office, in writing, within seven (7) days of the notification of the decision by the instructor. The letter must include the decision that is being appealed, the grounds for appeal, and the remedy sought by the appellant. If all three are not specified in the appeal letter, or if the Chair of the student’s Program Appeal Committee decides that sufficient grounds do not exist, the appeal will not be heard. Reappraisals are dealt with by the Chair of the Program Appeal Committee in consultation with the instructor and one other faculty member in the student’s program. Such reappraisal of grades shall again involve a review of the course requirements, together with a check of the computation of weighted components used in calculating the final grade. The Registrar’s Office shall inform the student in writing of the result of the reappraisal.

Decisions of the Reappraisal Committee are final and may not be appealed.

E. Practicum Procedures

Prior to being considered for a Practicum placement, students will likely be required to obtain one or more types of Record Checks. A Criminal Record Check is the most common type of background check required by most organisations / corporations. It is obtained through the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) for residents of Edmonton or through the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) for those residing outside of Edmonton. Some organisations / corporations require a Vulnerable Sector Check, which is a part of the EPS or RCMP Information Check. Additionally, a few organisations/corporations still require an Alberta Intervention Record Check that is completed through Children’s Services. General information about record checks will be addressed during the practicum application process.

The record check is to be kept by the student and presented to the organisation / corporation upon request. Each case is reviewed on an individual basis to determine if the record check brings into question the suitability of the person to enter a practicum placement in that organization / corporation. A decision to accept or not accept a student for placement is made based on the results of the record check and each organisation’s / corporation’s threshold.

It is the student’s sole responsibility to ensure that she/he can satisfy the requirements for a record check. The requirements for a record check are not in the control of Concordia University of Edmonton, but rather depend on the requirements of the organisation / corporation as well as other factors. If a student cannot satisfy the requirements, it may affect that student’s ability to participate in a practicum, to complete the program, or to obtain employment.

Students with concerns about their ability to clear the records check, should contact the Practicum Coordinator.