Task Force on Graduate Funding: Terms of reference

University Hall on a clear, sunny day. There is some snow on the ground in front of the building.

Graduate student funding is a challenge felt by McMaster and its students along with universities across the higher education sector. It is a complex issue and the current affordability challenges that many in our society are facing have amplified the need for a thorough review.

The Task Force on Graduate Funding is an extension of the working group on the issue that was formed by the School of Graduate Studies in 2022.

The Task Force will be evidence-based and focused on developing a detailed understanding of the current funding environment and multiple funding sources of McMaster’s graduate students; and the funding challenges facing graduate students; and will make recommendations on short and long-term solutions to Graduate Council, Senate and the Provost and Vice-President (Academic).

The Task Force will:

  1. Collect data and review all sources of income for graduate students, including:

·         Funding levels for Masters and Ph.D. students

·         On-campus employment regulations for graduate students’ hours of work as outlined in the Graduate Calendar

·         Proportion of TA and RA in-lieu employment income for graduate students across the university

·         Internal and external graduate scholarships and their distribution across the university

·         Funding sources, including support from research grants

  1. Consider average funding and distribution of all sources of funding across McMaster graduate programs, departments and faculties 
  2. Develop a consultation plan to include the GSA, graduate students, faculty members, deans and associate deans, MUFA, CUPE and the broader university community 
  3. Consider how similar institutions are managing graduate student funding 
  4. Identify challenges and recommend potential solutions for both the short and longer term 
  5. Recommend how to best continue discussions on the topic of graduate funding past the duration of the Task Force 
  6. Deliver updates and a final report to the Provost and to Graduate Council, completed by the end of 2023.  The chair will also provide updates to the Senate as the work of the group develops.

The scope of the Task Force does not include working conditions and pay for TAs & RAs or any other items negotiated through the collective bargaining process with CUPE 3906 (Unit 1)


Chair: Vice-Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies

Associate Dean, Graduate Studies, FHS                                          

Associate Dean, Graduate Studies and Research, Humanities

Associate Dean, Graduate Studies, DSB

Associate Dean, Graduate Studies, Science

Associate Dean, Graduate Studies, Social Sciences

Associate Dean, Graduate Studies, Engineering

Deputy Provost

Graduate Council Student Representative, Humanities (one)

Graduate Council Student Representative, FHS (one)

Graduate Council Student Representative, Engineering (one)

Graduate Council Student Representative, DSB (one)

Graduate Council Student Representative, Science (one)

Graduate Council Student Representative, Social Sciences (one)

Consultants to the Task Force

Sean Van Koughnett, Acting AVP, Finance & Planning (Academic)

Representative from the Vice-President, Research office

Representative from Finance

Representative from University Advancement

Note: The role of consultants is to provide information and perspectives from their portfolios to inform the work of the Task force.

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