COVID-19: Faculty of Education Updates: Graduate Studies


For UBC Graduate COVID-19 information, visit grad.ubc.ca/covid-19.
For UBC Postdoctoral COVID-19 information, visit postdocs.ubc.ca/covid-19.


For mobile devices: FAQs and Q&As are located at the bottom of the page.

April 23, 2020 | 4:12pm

Town Hall
Thank you to all who attended last week’s Town Hall. We had a great turn out of students. Thanks to all the panelists for taking the time to attend. One of the things we heard from students is that they wanted more opportunities to interact with students and faculty. As such, we will be organizing more events at both the faculty level and the department/school level. Many questions were generated during the Town Hall and the breakout groups afterwards. These have all been compiled and answered in the side bar.

Needs Assessment Survey
Thank you so much to the 255 students who have completed the survey to date. This information has been incredibly helpful and will be used by faculty and departments to address gaps in resources and need. We have also shared this information with Graduate Studies. The word cloud comes directly from the open ended comments, which clearly focused on tuition and employment.

Emergency Funding
Enrolment services remains the place to seek support if you are in financial distress. We are finally beginning to see an uptick in the numbers of graduate students accessing this important resource. We are also expecting announcements additional bursary funding in the next short while.

Government Resources and Online Supports
Earlier this week, the federal government has announced financial support for graduate students. No details are available yet as to how that can be accessed, however, the university has been advised that international students will likely not be eligible for this funding. This is disappointing, but things are still fluid, so may change.

Statistics Canada is conducting a survey on how post secondary students are being impacted by COVID-19: https://www.statcan.gc.ca/eng/survey/household/5320

The provincial government has released information about free online counselling and referral services for all post secondary students in BC (Here2Talk).


April 7, 2020 | 3:40 pm

Graduate Student Updates

Graduate Student Needs Assessment Questionnaire

To accurately assess areas of need, we are asking all Faculty of Education graduate students to complete our anonymous Needs Assessment Questionnaire in order to help us target, and advocate for, the highest areas of need. The questionnaire may be found here: ubc.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_eXLPfPGwgBAq48l

Graduate Student Town Hall

All graduate students have been invited to a Town Hall on Friday, April 17th, at 2 pm (to be held on Zoom). Students will hear from Dean Frank and Dr. Shapka, Director of Graduate Studies in Education, who will report the results of the Needs Assessment Questionnaire. Graduate students will also share their experiences, as well as strategies for moving forward with coursework and research.

UBC Wiki: COVID-19 Resources for BC Post Secondary Sector
Dr. Michelle Stack has spearheaded the development of a Wiki page, which houses COVID-19 resources relevant to Post Secondary students. We hope that the information on the page will grow over the coming weeks: wiki.ubc.ca/Documentation:COVID-19_Resources:_BC_Post-Secondary_Sector

Volunteer Opportunities

The Government of Canada is working with provincial and territorial governments and is seeking volunteers to help in the following areas:

  • Case tracking and contact tracing
  • Health system surge capacity
  • Case data collection and reporting

If you or someone you know are interested in applying to be a National COVID-19 volunteer, more information is available here: emploisfp-psjobs.cfp-psc.gc.ca/psrs-srfp/applicant/page1800?poster=1437722&toggleLanguage=en. Deadline to apply is end of day April 24.


April 2, 2020

UBC Postdoctoral Community

Dear PDF Coordinators,

I hope this email finds you all well and safe during these challenging times.

I wanted to reach out to provide some information on what has been happing on the PDFO front for the Postdoctoral Community.

A few weeks ago we reached out to the PDF Community with [this] email communication; however, as we all know, things have drastically changed since then and continue to change on a daily basis. For that reason, we have created a COVID-19 page on our website that we update regularly as new information is received. We are also in communication with the VPRI Office regarding tri-agency funding information, although at this time we do not have any new information to share. We are also investigating the recently announced Provincial and Federal Government programs and COVID-19 aid packages to determine whether postdocs may be eligible for any of these programs.

At this time, we have transitioned most of our professional development workshops from in-person sessions to online sessions. We are also actively seeking and updating the PDFO website with online PD opportunities to ensure that the postdoc community continues to be mentally engaged. We have also made the decision to suspend the PDF Travel Awards at this time due to multiple travel advisories and conference cancellations. We hope to resume these in the next few months once the emerging situation has stabilized. We continue to meet with the Postdoctoral Association (PDA) to ensure we are abreast of any concerns or issues during these challenging times.

While we have all been impacted in some way due to COVID-19, I recognize that our research community has been impacted greatly, including our Postdocs. I welcome hearing from you as well regarding concerns/issues that you are either dealing with at your faculties or are hearing from your postdoctoral fellows.

Thank you all for your patience as we navigate through these challenging times.

Hourik [CPHR, SHRM-SCP | Senior Manager | Human Resources & Postdoctoral Affairs | Faculty of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies]


March 30, 2020 | 8:30 am

Dear colleagues,

The past few days have been hectic for all of us, and, I’m sure, with significant concern on all our minds for the health and wellbeing of ourselves and that of our families, students and colleagues. We know that you have all been working very hard to find answers to the questions that current and prospective students, as well as faculty members, might have. We sincerely thank you for your dedication, collegiality and professionalism during this challenging time. This situation is unprecedented, and many processes and plans are being developed as quickly as possible.

At G+PS we have been working hard to explore solutions for the many situations that have been brought forward. We appreciate your patience as we work through many complex issues that span academic, financial, technological, and other areas. We are committed to supporting your program and you individually to the best of our ability.

Of particular importance are two messages that were distributed today directly to all supervisors and all graduate students within G+PS programs. Programs outside of G+PS are encouraged to distribute any relevant details to their students directly.

We have also continued to build up the COVID-19 FAQ section on our website. Please note that this is our main page where all future updates will be communicated: https://www.grad.ubc.ca/covid-19

Please know that you can always reach out to our office with your concerns and suggestions. We soon hope to organize virtual meetings during which graduate programs can raise concerns and share solutions they have explored and implemented. While we might not have answers to all questions, we will take away your feedback for further investigation.

At this point, we hope to better understand what your key concerns and needs are, which includes preparation for both May and September intakes of new students. It is important for us to fully understand how ready our graduate programs are to continue with program delivery if the curtailment of research and social distancing protocols continue.

We have created a brief survey and kindly ask you to fill out the form at your earliest convenience. This information will help us prioritize the various issues brought forward: https://ubc.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3r7Tzb7Yq626x6Z

Despite all the challenges, we may be proud of how quickly and professionally the entire university has managed to transition vast operations online to support all university members. This gives me a great deal of confidence that, together, we can address the many challenges we will face in the coming weeks.

With gratitude,

Susan Porter
Dean and Vice-Provost
Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies


March 30, 2020 | 8:30 am

How can you support your grad students in the COVID-19 context?

In the context of the current pandemic and the necessity of working from home, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies has gathered suggestions and guidance for supervisors as they work remotely with their students – continuing to mentor them, assisting them in the continuation of their research and scholarly activities, and helping ensure an environment that promotes the wellbeing of all. We acknowledge that each relationship and disciplinary field is different and may benefit from distinctive approaches.

Maintaining your working relationship in new ways:

  • Ensure both you and your student understand the circumstances under which you’re working. Are there added responsibilities, such as childcare, or other factors that may influence the work environment, communication, or wellbeing of either of you?
  • Set up virtual collaborative spaces that accommodate everyone’s preferences as much as possible. UBC IT recommends Zoom as a very versatile and ‘safe’ platform for most interactions – videoconferencing, chat rooms, instant messaging, etc. As with face-to-face meetings, it is best practice to follow up these virtual meetings by email regarding plans, decisions, etc.
  • Try to maintain the forms of interactions you had before working from home (e.g., one-on-one and group discussions, regular reports). This can be helpful not only for ongoing productivity but for morale and a sense of continuity. At the same time, be considerate of new needs that may have arisen, which may necessitate revised expectations for progress and/or diminished availability.
  • Agree on how often, when, and how you will continue to “meet”; develop guidelines for interactions and schedules, taking into consideration any additional time constraints both your students and you may have.
  • Schedule regular check-ins with each student individually.

Maintaining student academic progress:

  • Mutually consider how academic progress will be made. How will they work toward academic milestones such as comprehensive exams, proposal development or thesis/dissertation completion? If some aspect of your student’s program cannot continue, what other progress can be made?
  • Continue with regularly scheduled supervisory committee meetings as much as possible.
  • For situations in which research plans need to be put on hold – e.g. due to UBC research curtailment, human participant research restrictions, or field research requiring travel – discuss what other activities might be useful to focus on for the time being. A number of possibilities are compiled below.
  • Be clear about expectations, but be understanding of the challenging circumstances many face, including the need to adapt to different ways of working.
  • As much as possible, create opportunities for team members and collaborators to engage with each other – both for research continuity and social reasons. Ideally, journal clubs, writing groups, and other community activities should be maintained.

Student wellbeing:

  • Working in isolation can be dispiriting. Read and share the many resources that exist for maintaining and promoting a sense of wellbeing in this environment. There are a number on the UBC Student Services website.
  • Encourage your students to access the sources of help listed on this website if they are finding it difficult to cope.
  • Acknowledge the emotional stress everyone is under, but try not to dwell on the crisis and its negative repercussions longer than helpful.
  • Promote the importance of accurate sources of information and keeping the situation in perspective; encourage regular care such as exercise, eating well, (distanced) social interaction, and practices such as mindfulness.
  • Look after yourself!

Student finances:

  • This may well be a time of financial strain for your students. As much as possible, you are encouraged to continue funding them if they are supported by your grants. In cases where students are experiencing serious financial issues, emergency funding may be available through Enrolment Services.
  • While we haven’t yet determined the most effective ways to ease the burdens many of you face, G+PS is exploring a range of options. Please be assured that all major University-wide multi-year scholarships will continue to be paid throughout the eligibility period.
  • For the most up-to-date information on funding, please visit the G+PS Funding FAQ.

When academic/research progress is not possible:

  • If by May you come to the conclusion that any of your students are unable to progress in their research or program at all, it may make sense to consider a leave of absence. Please note, however, that this status comes with restrictions, including funding, access to resources and, for international students, work eligibility.
  • For more information on leaves of absence, visit the G+PS General FAQ.
  • For immigration and work eligibility information, visit the International Student Guide FAQ.

Possible activities for students to support academic progress when research is curtailed:

  • Analyzing previously compiled material and data, and designing research approaches.
  • Reading and synthesizing scholarly literature
  • Preparing ethics proposals.
  • Attending and presenting at online journal clubs
  • Writing or revising – manuscripts, thesis chapters, grant applications, review articles.
  • Working on contributions for collaborative publications.
  • Preparing grant/fellowship applications (attend the April 9 or April 16 webinar on fall fellowship applications).
  • Preparing research seminars, and/or posters for meetings.
  • Engaging in teaching opportunities.
  • Taking online courses/webinars, including those directed at professional development.

See the G+PS website for numerous virtual professional development opportunities. To stay informed on upcoming online workshops, services, and resources, subscribe to GradUpdate weekly emails of follow us on Twitter @UBCGradSchool.

The following units also have ongoing services:


March 30, 2020 | 8:30 am

These are unprecedented times for our generation, and the uncertainty and upheaval they are causing are especially difficult to navigate when it is the health and wellbeing of so many that are at stake.

I’m writing on behalf of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies to let you know that we are aware that many of you are experiencing especially difficult challenges right now – in your personal circumstances, your research, and your academic work – and to assure you that we, and those at all levels at UBC, are working extremely hard to find ways to alleviate the challenges you face. You may find that some of your concerns and questions are addressed on our website, and I encourage you to visit it: https://www.grad.ubc.ca/covid-19.

Briefly, the following are the measures that we and the University are taking to date:

Academic issues

  • As courses and assessments go online, we realize that this can entail many uncertainties. Your instructors have the capacity to alter the grading schemes or standing options for current courses if necessary, and requests for concessions are always available to you. In concordance with the Senate, we are also delaying the deadline for grade submission. The Assessment FAQ shows details sent to grad programs and course instructors; please connect with your course instructors for details regarding your own course(s) if you have not already heard from them.
  • We understand that interruptions in your ability to progress in your programs, whether because of personal circumstances, research curtailment, or other issues, may result in delayed completion of your program. We will therefore effectively extend deadlines for milestones (e.g. candidacy) and program completion by at least one term. Although process details of this are still being determined, please be assured that we will eliminate justification requirements for extensions related to the pandemic.
  • Final doctoral exams are successfully proceeding completely online, and will continue as such as long as necessary.
  • There will be a slight delay only in the granting of degrees, however the graduation ceremony has been indefinitely postponed.
  • We appreciate that some of you may decide to take a leave of absence for some period in the near future. While this may be feasible for some, please note that leaves come with certain restrictions, especially in terms of funding and student employment as outlined in our general FAQ.
  • We realize that research projects for many have been put on hold for diverse reasons. We encourage you and your supervisor(s) to explore other opportunities for furthering your research and academic progress throughout this time of curtailment, while also planning ahead for how to proceed when the curtailment eases. Examples of such opportunities and suggestions for practices that promote effective continuity of supervision and academic progress have been compiled and are being sent to supervisors. Please view a copy of this message in our announcements. We, and the University and research community more broadly, are continuing to deliberate on the longer term ramifications and potential mitigating strategies of research curtailment.

Wellbeing

The pandemic and related public health measures are naturally causing significant stress and anxiety for many. At the same time, there is much to be grateful for in our current environment, including the many people across UBC and beyond stepping up to make the situation better. The following are among the resources available to you now:

  • Mental health support, including Student Health Services and Counselling Services, continue to be provided (virtually). Note that EMPOWER ME provides confidential counselling 24/7, and it’s free for all UBC students. Please review other related student services.
  • There are also numerous resources on enhancing wellbeing in the current environment at the above sites. One example is the Wellness Centre Online, a space for engaging in topics relevant to student wellbeing. Students can self-enrol.

Financial challenges

While we haven’t yet determined the most effective ways to ease the burdens many of you face, we are exploring a range of options. We will keep you informed as measures are taken, and are also communicating with programs to better learn what is needed. Please note the following:

  • Be assured that all major University-wide multi-year scholarships will continue to be paid throughout the eligibility period.
  • If you are experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 situation (extraordinary expenses, loss of employment, etc.) we strongly encourage you to schedule a confidential advising appointment with an Enrolment Services Advisor. An advisor will assess your financial situation and provide the best course of action for you. It may not be possible for Enrolment Services to provide immediate support in all circumstances, but meeting with an advisor will also enable the University to gather a clearer picture of the needs that exist and to direct its financial support resources more effectively.
  • Indigenous graduate students with inquiries or issues with financial difficulties/distress should contact an Indigenous Enrolment Services Advisor. The Indigenous ESA Team can be reached at aboriginal.support@ubc.ca
  • We are reviewing information about the support offered by the federal and provincial governments, to understand what may be applicable to graduate students – recognizing that these supports may help some, but certainly not all, students who require financial support.

Support for international students

We know many of our international graduate students may have questions about returning to Canada, your options to stay in Canada, traveling abroad, completing your studies, and working in Canada. To help answer some of these questions, International Student Advising (ISA) has recently published an FAQ on the UBC International Student Guide. If you have any questions not addressed in the FAQ, we encourage you to reach out to ISA directly. Please note that although ISA is not providing in-person services at this time, they will continue to advise students by email (include your student number): isa@students.ubc.ca.

Professional development

Many UBC units have moved their workshops and one-to-one advising online. This may be an opportune time for many to make use of these helpful resources. The following are a few key links.

As new information and opportunities arise in the coming days and weeks, we will communicate them to you. In the meantime, I encourage you all to look after yourselves and others. Please know that your sustainment, wellbeing, and ongoing scholarly formation are our first priorities throughout this challenging time.


March 26, 2020 | 4:45 pm

Graduate Student Leave Absences

A message from Brendan Morey, Asst. Dean, Student Administration and Awards, was sent to graduate advisors and staff yesterday outlining options for graduate students with regard to different scenarios for possible leave requests for the summer term (May-Aug 2020). Read more here: educ.ubc.ca/covid-19-faculty-of-education-update-graduate-studies.


March 26, 2020 | 1:54 pm

Dear Graduate Advisors and Staff,

One of the more pressing (among many) decisions facing graduate students and graduate programs is whether to continue their studies and research in the Summer 2020 session (May to Aug 2020) or to take a leave of absence. As you discuss this with each of your students, we encourage you to consider the following:

Scenarios

  1. If your program is entirely course-based, does not rely on in-person interaction and your unit is resourced and prepared to offer courses remotely, a leave of absence for the summer term would not be justified given no other relevant circumstances.
  2. If your program is research-based, does not rely on in-person interaction, and supervisors are able to support their students remotely, a leave of absence for the summer term would not be justified, given no other relevant circumstances.
  3. If your student’s research project, off-campus fieldwork, practicum placement, etc. has been / will be curtailed by COVID-19 restrictions, you are encouraged first to consider how you may support them to continue their academic progress through other means. This can include: working on data analysis and design of experiments, reading scientific/relevant scholarly literature, writing drafts of manuscripts, preparing grant/fellowship applications, starting dissertation chapters (i.e., literature review for those not at that stage or completing dissertations by those more advanced), seeking journals for unsolicited reviews and preparing research seminars, and/or posters for meetings.

If it appears that continued progress is unlikely, it may be advisable for the student to take a leave of absence. Per the UBC policy regarding on-leave status, while on a leave of absence, graduate students are expected to not undertake any academic or research work related to the program for which they have taken a leave of absence. Access to the University’s facilities and resources, including faculty supervision, while on a leave of absence may be limited.

Please note, however, that taking a leave absence has a number of potential consequences that need to be considered carefully. A list of services that may be impacted by leave status can be found at grad.ubc.ca/faculty-staff/policies-procedures/leave-status. Of particular note:

  1. Scholarship support is normally interrupted for students who are on leave. External funding agencies and UBC are each engaged in discussions about financial assistance and continuity of funding for students, but at this point students should expect that their scholarship funding will be interrupted if they go on leave, and weigh their options accordingly.
  2. Students who are on leave are also not eligible to be employed as teaching assistants; nor can they normally be appointed as a graduate research assistant.
  3. International students are not eligible to work while on leave. International students must be registered as full-time students to be eligible to work.
  4. Normally, if international students take more than 150 days of leave from their graduate program, they jeopardize their eligibility to apply for a Post-Graduation Work Permit (PGWP). It is our understanding, though, that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will take the effects of COVID-19 into consideration when assessing PGWP program eligibility. Therefore, taking a leave of absence may be more of a viable option for international students than it would have been in other circumstances.
  5. Students on leave may not have continued access to UBC Housing. Students should contact UBC Housing to confirm what housing options are available to them.

Individual circumstances:
Within the broad scenarios outlined above, the situations of individual students will vary considerably. It is important that supervisors and graduate programs contact each of their students individually to discuss whether they can continue with their coursework and/or research (or progress in their programs in other ways, as noted above) or whether a leave of absence for the Summer 2020 session is appropriate for them.

Submission of leave requests:
If, in your conversations with students it is determined that a leave of absence is appropriate, please refer to the following:

  1. Details re: on-leave status for students: grad.ubc.ca/faculty-staff/policies-procedures/leave-status
  2. Leave of Absence Request Form: grad.ubc.ca/forms/request-leave-absence
  3. Please direct any specific questions you may have to graduate.sas@ubc.ca

With best regards,

Brendan Morey
Assistant Dean, Student Administration and Awards


March 25, 2020 | 4:55 pm

To all Education graduate and undergraduate students (including KIN, TEO):

We hope you are doing well during this extraordinary time, recognizing that you are understandably worried about your health and safety as well as those of your family and friends. You have been receiving communications from your department, program, school, advisors and others with updates, and we in the Dean’s Office are conveying information from central UBC administration, BC Health, Ministries of Education and Advanced Education, and others to keep our communities as informed as possible. Your instructors have been working hard to make alternate arrangements for course delivery, assignments, exam administration and other aspects of course instruction, and we recognize that this has had a significant impact.

You are no doubt concerned about how your programs will continue now and in the days ahead and what the various changes in delivery and other processes will mean to your overall progress. We know that some of you are juggling some very challenging situations requiring as much flexibility as possible. To that end, we would like to advise how grading will proceed, including the options from which you may select the one that best fits your circumstances.

Course Grading

A message to all undergraduate and graduate students that was sent today outlines options for grading for courses that are currently completing, underway and/or scheduled for upcoming terms for the foreseeable future:

  1. Those enrolled in undergraduate courses (including KIN students; excluding TEO candidates) have the following options*:
    • accept assigned grade,
    • withdraw from course and accept “W” on your transcript (no course credit, no tuition refund), or
    • choose Credit/D or F standing
      • Credit: assigned when grade is 55% or higher. Degree credit earned.
      • D: assigned when grade is 50-54%. Degree credit earned.
      • F: assigned when grade below 50%. No degree credit earned.

*In the case of courses with an exam, the choice of option can be made after exam result is provided.

  1. Those enrolled in the Teacher Education Program (BEd degree) will be advised by the TEO as to alternate means by which your courses will be delivered, including information regarding fulfilling practicum requirements as these become known. Grading will continue to be provided on a Pass/Fail basis.
  2. Those enrolled in graduate courses have the following options:
    • accept assigned grade, or
    • withdraw from course and accept “W” on your transcript (no course credit, no tuition refund).

For those involved in practica, field experiences, certifications, etc., you will be advised by your program and/or Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies as to next steps for alternate experiences as these become known. Please reach out to your supervisors to discuss and adjust as necessary for the continuation of research projects and other aspects of your graduate work.

Please know that instructors, administrators, support staff, and advisors in your department, program and Faculty are here to support your progress and your wellbeing. We will continue to provide current information as we receive it. I encourage you to regularly check the COVID-19: Faculty of Education Updates site, your department, school or program website and to reach out to any of us in the Faculty if and as you need to.


March 25, 2020 | 4:55 pm

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) has updated its COVID-19 response page to include information about the state of its various funding programs. nserc-crsng.gc.ca/Media-Media/NewsRelease-CommuniqueDePresse_eng.asp?ID=1139

Research curtailment

Please note that, as previously mentioned, off-campus research involving in-person interaction with (human) research participants is curtailed (see: COVID-19 Bulletin). Please check the BREB websites or e-mail jean.ruiz@ors.ubc.ca (BREB) for more information.

Graduate student access to data analysis software off campus

VPRI suggests that, during this COVID-19 research curtailment period on campus, students may be able to navigate normal site-license restrictions for off-campus software use (e.g., SPSS) and secure data storage by contacting: PopData BC: info@popdata.bc.ca or UBC IT: site-license@it.ubc.ca


March 20, 2020 | 4:15 pm

Study and Other Leaves

Faculty Relations has advised that a notice outlining provisions for study and other leaves is forthcoming. It will be posted to the Faculty COVID-19 site.


March 19, 2020 | 1:54 pm

Dear Graduate Students,

This email is to apprise you of supports available to you through the Faculty of Education’s Cultural Diversity and Support Office (housed in ECPS).

We recognize that employment, and therefore cash flow, has been greatly reduced or even dried up for many of you. Indeed, we have become aware that there are some Faculty of Education graduate students who have been unable to access the basic necessities of life, such as food or medications. If you are are student in dire need, please reach out to us so that we can support you.

The faculty has created a small emergency fund to provide relief for students. This is short-term funding that can be used to get you through a few days or a week. The amount available is small, and should only be seen as an emergency, short-term solution. If you are a graduate student in need of this level of support, please contact Aloy at culturaldiversity.edu@ubc.ca as soon as possible.

In addition, we are attempting to create a virtual foodbank through go fund me to support students in need of emergency funding. If you are a graduate student who can contribute to the care of your colleagues, you can find the link here gofundme.com/f/ubc-faculty-of-education-food-bank-covid19

The COVID19 crisis is not only going to last a week, however, and we recognize that some of you are experiencing stress related to managing tuition, housing, food, and other expenses. We are hopeful that the university, as well as municipal, provincial, and federal government support will become available in the coming weeks. For example, landlords have already been asked to allow deferred payments from renters, and banks have agreed to defer mortgage payments. Hopefully, the university will make announcements about tuition, course schedules, and so forth in the coming weeks.

Sincerely,
Jennifer Shapka [Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Education] and Aloysius Anyichie [Coordinator, Cultural Diversity Support Office]


March 19, 2020 | 11:15 am

I hope you are managing to do well these days as COVID-19 is dominating our lives. To help and support each other, I suggest that faculty members contact and check in with each of their students regularly. Students should also keep in touch with their supervisors. Please circulate any suggestions about how to support on-campus students within your networks.

Dr. Ling Shi [Professor and Graduate Advisor, Language and Literacy Education]


March 19, 2020 | 10:55 am

Doctoral Exams has successfully held out first all-remote doctoral defences, and while there have been some hiccups, most of them have been proceeding well.

In response to your questions and concerns, as well as some of the issues that have arisen, we have updated the Virtual Exam Protocol document. Please distribute as appropriate. It’s also linked on our website under “Remote Attendance

I just want to thank everyone who has been in touch and who is helping us to facilitate these defences. We really appreciate it!

Robyn Starkey [Doctoral Exams Coordinator, Office of the Dean, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies]


March 19, 2020 | 10:54 am

In response to the growing concerns surrounding the COVID-19 virus, G+PS, in consultation with UBC IT, has developed a process to support total virtual participation in a doctoral defense.

This remote protocol applies for defences held on or after March 19, 2020 until further notice.

Virtual Defense

Virtual defenses will be supported on two platforms:

  • UBC’s Virtual Meeting Room (VMR). This platform is the one used in G+PS exam room 203 and for videoconferencing at some hospital locations.
  • UBC Zoom accounts. Doctoral Exams staff will normally set these meetings. Supervisors who have UBC Zoom accounts and are familiar with the platform may also set the meeting. IN NO CIRCUMSTANCES should the Zoom meeting be created by the candidate.

Information about booking the virtual defence will be sent with the regular defence email notifications. The Exam Reminder sent to the committee one week before the defence is now the regular timeline for setting up Zoom or VMR.

All required participants, outlined below, must agree to participate in a virtual defense. The Doctoral Exams team will be experiencing a higher than normal workload as the University responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, and sufficient notice must be provided in order to schedule the virtual defense. Doctoral Exams Staff will send confirmations of the virtual defense will include specific instructions on joining the defense. Questions should be directed to graduate.doctoral@ubc.ca.

Participants

Virtual defenses will support quorum only, meaning that attendees will be restricted to a maximum of six participants as follows:

  • The Doctoral Candidate
  • The Examination Chair
  • Two Supervisory Committee Members (supervisors, co-supervisors or committee
  • members)
  • Two G+PS-approved University Examiners

It is important to note that while the approved platforms are capable of supporting a virtual defense with six participants, the quality of both the audio and visual components will depend greatly on the quality of each participant’s internet connection. We recommend connecting from a location with a reliable internet connection (hard-wired if possible). Both platforms allow testing the connection prior to the defence, and all participants should take the opportunity to do so. As we cannot control the quality of each participant’s internet connection, participants should be prepared for technical issues (eg. poor audio or visual quality, dropped connections) and the Chair should be prepared to uphold the responsibilities as outlined below.

Although the doctoral defense is normally a public event, virtual defenses present additional challenges to the candidate, and may be more difficult. In order to ensure a rigorous, fair, and uninterrupted defence, the virtual defence cannot be open to members other than those stated above. The Zoom URL or VMR Room ID should not be circulated to anyone but the committee and candidate.

This is a temporary measure approved by the Dean of G+PS in order to facilitate virtual doctoral defenses, and is applicable only to total virtual participation in a doctoral defense (ie. does not apply to in-person defenses or partial virtual defenses at this time).

Responsibilities of the Chair

  1. Represent the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.
  2. Moderate the defense proceedings; ensure fairness.
    1. Outline the potential technical issues that may occur, encourage patience and kindness towards each other, and describe the Chair’s responsibility to suspend the defense if there are technical difficulties that compromise the defense.
  3. Ensure that any questions posed in the External Examiner’s Report are addressed by the Candidate during the question period.
  4. Chair the in camera discussion of the Examining Committee and convey the outcome to the Candidate.
    1. Ensure the Candidate is removed from the connection for the entirety of the in camera discussion.
  5. Submit a report on the Final Doctoral Examination to the Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies using the form provided.

Important note: the Chair has the authority to discontinue a remote connection at any time they judge that it is interfering with the proper conduct of the examination. If one or more participants drop from the connection or lose audio, the defense must be halted until the participant’s connection or audio is restored. If the connection or audio cannot be restored after 30 minutes or if the total amount of time lost exceeds 60 minutes, the Chair must suspend the defense and notify graduate.doctoral@ubc.ca immediately. The Doctoral Exams team will communicate with the Candidate and their Supervisor regarding rescheduling the defense.


March 18, 2020 | 2:50 pm

Dear Graduate Program Colleagues,

(i) To streamline communication around the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our UBC graduate students, supervisors and programs, a COVID-19 landing page has been created on the G+PS website at: https://www.grad.ubc.ca/covid-19. We will be adding to and updating this page over the coming days.

For updated information about matters that affect the UBC whole community, we encourage you to monitor the UBC website for the most recent notifications: https://www.ubc.ca.

(ii) Effective Tuesday 17 March, we have closed the G+PS office to the public, but staff continue to maintain operations.  Following UBC’s recommendation to implement remote working arrangements for faculty, staff, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and student employees, many G+PS staff will be working remotely and there may be a delay in service as a result.  Faculty, staff, and current students should direct inquiries to graduate.sas@ubc.ca and prospective students should direct inquiries to graduate.apply@ubc.ca. Questions regarding award funding can be directed to graduate.awards@ubc.ca.

Brendan Morey [Assistant Dean, Student Administration and Awards, Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies]


March 18, 2020 | 8:50 am

In response to the growing concerns surrounding the COVID-19 virus, G+PS in consultation with UBC IT has developed a process to support total virtual participation in a doctoral defense.

This remote protocol applies for defences held on or after March 19, 2020 until further notice.

Virtual Defense

Virtual defenses will be supported by UBC’s Virtual Meeting Room (VMR); Doctoral Exams staff can also set up Zoom meetings if the committee prefers. Requests for a virtual defense, whether partial or total, must be submitted to graduate.doctoral@ubc.ca at least 48 hours before the scheduled defense. Before sending a request for a virtual defense, please ensure all required participants, outlined below, have agreed to participate in a virtual defense. UBC IT and the Doctoral Exams team will be experiencing a higher than normal workload as the University responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, and sufficient notice must be provided in order to schedule the virtual defense. Confirmations of the virtual defense will include specific instructions on joining the defense. Due to technical capacity, virtual defenses will support quorum only, meaning that attendees will be restricted to a maximum of six participants as follows:

  • The Doctoral Candidate
  • The Examination Chair
  • Two Supervisory Committee Members (supervisors, co-supervisors or committee members)
  • Two G+PS-approved University Examiners

If any participants are joining from an international location, this must be indicated at the time the request for a virtual defense is submitted. It is important to note that while UBC’s VMR is capable of supporting a virtual defense with six participants, the quality of both the audio and visual components will depend greatly on the quality of each participant’s internet connection. We recommend connecting from a computer that is hard-wired into an internet connection and if you must connect via wifi, try to test the connection prior to the defence. As we cannot control the quality of each participant’s internet connection, participants should be prepared for technical issues (eg. poor audio or visual quality, dropped connections) and the Chair should be prepared to uphold the responsibilities as outlined below.

Although the doctoral defense is normally a public event, virtual defenses cannot accommodate more than six participants and, therefore, cannot be open to members other than those stated above. This is a temporary measure approved by the Dean of G+PS in order to facilitate virtual doctoral defenses, and is applicable only to total virtual participation in a doctoral defense (ie. does not apply to in-person defenses or partial virtual defenses at this time).

 Responsibilities of the Chair

  1. Represent the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.
  2. Moderate the defense proceedings; ensure fairness. a. Outline the potential technical issues that may occur, encourage patience and kindness towards each other, and describe the Chair’s responsibility to suspend the defense if there are technical difficulties that compromise the defense
  3. Ensure that any questions posed in the External Examiner’s Report are addressed by the Candidate during the question period.
  4. Chair the in camera discussion of the Examining Committee and convey the outcome to the Candidate. a. Ensure the Candidate is removed from the connection for the entirety of the in camera
  5. Submit a report on the Final Doctoral Examination to the Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies using the form provided.

Important note: the Chair has the authority to discontinue a remote connection at any time they judge that it is interfering with the proper conduct of the examination. If one or more participants drop from the connection or lose audio, the defense must be halted until the participant’s connection or audio is restored. If the connection or audio cannot be restored after 30 minutes or if the total amount of time lost exceeds 60 minutes, the Chair must suspend the defense and notify graduate.doctoral@ubc.ca immediately. The Doctoral Exams team will communicate with the Candidate and their Supervisor regarding rescheduling the defense.


March 16, 2020 | 7:26 am

Dear LLED Community,

As the COVID-19 situation evolves day to day, we’re writing to update you on our current plans to accommodate graduate students, supervisors and programs affected by the situation. We are following the University’s lead and guidelines in all matters that affect the whole community, and encourage you to monitor the UBC website for the most recent notifications: https://www.ubc.ca/campus-notifications/.

As an overall approach, G+PS will be flexible whenever possible, and we encourage graduate programs and supervisors to adopt a similar posture in areas where they have primary responsibility, such as by allowing for remote participation in Master’s exams, proposal defences and/or comprehensive exams. In addition, frequent and active communication among students, supervisors and graduate programs can only be helpful in this rapidly changing situation.

The following are specific issues related to graduate students:

May admissions: G+PS will follow up directly with graduate programs that have students who will be arriving in May, to discuss on a case-by-case basis whether deferral to September is possible and advisable.

Final doctoral exams: At this point, all doctoral defenses are going ahead as planned and students with defenses scheduled in March have all been contacted by our Doctoral Exams team.  We are reviewing requests for partial virtual attendance for defenses that have already been scheduled, and are actively working with UBC IT to implement a process that would permit total virtual attendance for all defenses in the event of a campus closure. As the situation changes, we will aim toward maximum flexibility with respect to virtual attendance and, as necessary, remote locations.  Communication regarding the protocol for total virtual defenses will be distributed early next week.

Academic milestones: Existing academic policies provide latitude for G+PS to respond to exceptional circumstances beyond students’ control. This may include delays in holding Master’s exams, PhD comprehensive exams, and proposal defenses, as well as interruptions to research progress related to absence from work sites, etc. Should students’ progress in their academic program be impacted by COVID-19, G+PS will consider requests for extensions to timelines, with a strong bias in favour of flexibility.

Academic concessions: Referring to the UBC policy on Academic Concessions, requests for academic concession may be made to the instructor of the student’s course, their graduate supervisor or graduate advisor for their graduate program.  At this time, we strongly encourage students to monitor UBC’s website for communication on parameters for self-isolation.  If you do fall within the parameters for self-isolation and are concerned about attending classes, labs, or coming to campus, please speak with your instructor and/or supervisor as needed.  However, please note that if you do not fall within the parameters for self-isolation but still have concerns, those circumstances may not be grounds for academic concession.  If you are registered with the Centre for Accessibility, please consult your Accessibility Advisor in addition to your course instructor and/or supervisor.

We will continue to provide updates to graduate programs as the situation develops.

Brendan Morey [Assistant Dean, Student Administration and Awards, Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies]

Graduate Studies in Education


March 13, 2020 | 12:13 pm

Dear Students,

I am sending this email from my position as Director of Graduate Studies in Education.  This email is not to provide updates on COVID-19, nor to provide information about University-level decisions around classes and closures.  Rather, this email is to allay concerns that you, as graduate students, may have about the impact of COVID-19 on your program of studies. I want to confirm that the Faculty and Departments are committed to doing everything in our power to reduce the impact, and to ensure that you continue to progress through your studies in a timely fashion. Regarding course work, the Faculty is currently attempting to move classes to an online/distance format. In particular, we are focusing on our May/June offerings. For those of you who are planning to graduate this June, we will make every effort to support you during the completion of your program, so that you can graduate on schedule.

We will try hard to allay any financial impact by continuing to pay Education-based positions (e.g., TAships), as well as by advocating to the university and funding bodies on behalf of students. Regarding research, should your data collection be delayed due to such things as school closures or personal illness, we will help arrange extensions with Grad Studies, etc.  For paid RA work you may be doing, we are encouraging faculty to continue to work remotely and take advantage of video-conferencing software to meet virtually, so that some of this work may continue.  We encourage all of you to reach out to your supervisors/program advisors for guidance and/or to put contingency plans in place as needed.

I can’t possibly predict all of the ways COVID-19 will impact you, and I recognize that this is a very challenging situation. It is also a dynamic situation that will affect everyone differently.  As I stated above, please know that the Faculty will do what we can to reduce the impact of the virus on your academic progress.  For up-to-date information about the virus, please see the Faculty’s newly created web page, www.educ.ubc.ca/COVID-19.

Sincerely,

Jenna Shapka [Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Education]

Quicklinks

May 20, 2020 Town Hall Q&As
April 16, 2020 FAQs