9.0 Supervisors, Supervisory Committees, and Graduate Program Coordinators

9.1 Senate Policy: 0-9

Senate Policy: O-9: Graduate Student Supervision and Membership in the College of Graduate Studies outlines regulations for the supervisory privileges and sets out regulations for membership in the College of Graduate Studies.

SENATE POLICY: 0-9

Title & Number:

O-9: Graduate Student Supervision and Membership in the College of Graduate Studies

Effective/Implementation Date:

January 1, 2022

Approval Date:

November 25, 2021

Review Date:

This policy shall be reviewed two (2) years after approval and thereafter as deemed necessary by the Responsible Committee.

Responsible Committee(s):

Senate Academic Policy Committee

Authority:

University Act

S. 40
“A faculty has the following powers and duties:

(c) subject to this Act and to the approval of the senate, to make rules for the government, direction and management of the faculty and its affairs and business.”

S. 41
“A general rule made by a faculty is not effective or enforceable until a copy has been sent to the senate and the senate has given its approval.”

Purpose and Goals:

This policy is designed to:

  1. Set out regulations for the eligibility for and granting, review, renewal, limitation, and removal of supervisory privileges.
  2. Set out regulations for membership in the College of Graduate Studies.

Applicability:

This policy is applicable to all individuals eligible for graduate student supervisory privileges as set out in the policy.

Exclusions:

This policy does not apply to the supervision of undergraduate student research.

Definitions:

For the purposes of this policy:

  • College of Graduate Studies (or the College) shall mean the coordinating body for graduate education at UBC Okanagan established by the Senate and Board.
  • Graduate Council shall mean the governance body established for the government, direction, and management of the College of Graduate Studies and its affairs and business.
  • Graduate program coordinator shall mean the individual appointed by a Dean or Department Head to administer a graduate program, or equivalent.
  • Graduate student shall mean a student registered in a Master’s or Doctoral program at the Okanagan Campus.
  • Supervisor shall mean an eligible individual who serves as the academic mentor to a graduate student, with emphasis on guidance, instruction, and encouragement of scholarship and research. The supervisor oversees the graduate student’s academic progress and serves as chair of the graduate student’s supervisory committee, where applicable.
  • Co-Supervisors shall mean eligible individuals who jointly supervise the graduate student.
  • Supervisory privileges shall mean the privilege granted to a qualified individual to supervise masters and/or doctoral students within the parameters of this policy and, the College of Graduate Studies, and within the parameters of a graduate program’s supervisory policy.

Policy:

Membership in the College of Graduate Studies

1) The College of Graduate Studies consists of the President, the Deputy Vice- Chancellor, the Provost, the Vice-Principal Research, the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies, Deans of Faculties, and appropriately qualified members of the faculty from UBC Okanagan as set out in this policy.

2) There are three categories of membership: Supervisory, Co-supervisory, and Committee membership (i.e. eligibility to be a member of a student’s advisory committee).

3) For purpose of this policy there is no distinction in forms of co-supervision, i.e. primary, secondary, or equal. Holders of Co-supervisory membership status must co-supervise with a member who holds Supervisory status. The member who holds Supervisory status should be aware that in the event that the co-supervisor is unable to continue in their role (due to a change in employment etc.), then the member who holds Supervisory status will be responsible for the supervision of the student.

4) Tenured and tenure-track UBC Okanagan research faculty members (i.e., Professors, Associate Professors, and Assistant Professors) are eligible for Supervisory membership.

5)Members of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies UBC Vancouver are entitled to Co-supervisory membership. Eligibility to co-supervise or join the advisory committee of any student requires the approval of the program.

6) The following groups are eligible for Co-supervisory membership, subject to the College of Graduate Studies and program approval. Eligibility to co-supervise or join the advisory committee of any student requires the approval of the program.

    • Retired and Emeritus UBC Okanagan faculty (Professoriate or Educational Leadership stream)
    • Affiliate faculty
    • Adjunct faculty
    • In the case of time-limited appointments of Affiliate or Adjunct faculty, it is expected that the graduate program will maintain awareness of expiring appointments and will work to avoid discontinuities in supervision.

7) Tenured and tenure-track UBC Okanagan educational leadership faculty members (i.e., Professors of Teaching, Associate Professors of Teaching, and Assistant Professors of Teaching) are eligible for Supervisory membership. In recognition of the variety of roles filled by Educational Leadership faculty across campus, Supervisory membership will be subject to approval by the dean or designate of the faculty, and by the College of Graduate Studies.

It is the intent of this policy to respect the qualifications of Educational Leadership faculty, and to respect the value of their contributions to the institution through teaching and through (indeed) educational leadership. The intent of the policy is to create the opportunity for graduate supervision where appropriate, but not to create an expectation of graduate supervision as part of the role.

Educational Leadership faculty are eligible for Co-supervisory membership, subject to the College of Graduate Studies and program approval. Eligibility to co-supervise or join the advisory committee of any student requires the approval of the program.

8) Clinical faculty are eligible for Co-supervisory membership for a 5-year term (renewable), subject to the College of Graduate Studies and program approval. Eligibility to co-supervise or join the advisory committee of any student requires the approval of the program. Clinical associate professors without review are eligible for Committee membership, subject to program approval. It is expected that the graduate program will maintain awareness of expiring appointments and will work to avoid discontinuities in supervision.

9) Lecturers with continuing or time-limited appointments which extend to at least the normal duration of a student’s degree are eligible for Committee membership, with approval of the program.

10) Acting assistant professors and assistant professors without review are eligible for Committee membership, subject to program approval. It is expected that the graduate program will maintain awareness of expiring appointments and will work to avoid discontinuities in supervision.

11) External-to-UBC qualified individuals are eligible for Co-supervisory membership, subject to the College of Graduate Studies and program approval. Eligibility to co-supervise or join the advisory committee of any student requires the approval of College of Graduate Studies and of the graduate program.

12) Postdoctoral fellows are not eligible for membership.

13) Any faculty member new to UBC who is eligible to supervise must acquaint themselves with UBC supervisory policies, procedures, and best practices.

14) Exceptions to the above limitations on supervisory privileges may be considered by application to the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies. Respecting the authority of this policy, it is expected that the granting of exceptions will be rare.

Review, Limitation, and Removal of Supervisory Privileges

15) Informal reviews, or ‘issue/conflict resolution’ shall be undertaken by the Graduate Program Coordinator when concerns are raised either by the graduate student(s) or by the supervisor. Such concerns may include, but are not limited to:

  1. lack of effective communication;
  2. the absence of regular supervisory meetings;
  3. a sustained pattern of disrupted or unsuccessful supervisoryrelationships;
  4. expectations around the quality and amount of work required; differences around funding levels; and/or,
  5. respectful work environment issues.

If the Graduate Program Coordinator is unable to resolve the concerns, the coordinator should next consult with the Department Head or equivalent. If it is the case that the Department Head is the supervisor in question, then the Faculty Dean should be consulted. If the Department Head or Faculty Dean is unable to resolve the concerns, then the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies shall be consulted to resolve the concerns.

16) Serious concerns raised to Faculty Deans or the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies about the effectiveness of a faculty member’s supervision of graduate students will result in a formal review of supervisory privileges. Serious concerns may include, but are not limited to:

a. Inattentive or poor graduate supervision; and/or,
b.  Violations of the bounds of appropriate conduct between a faculty member and student such as:

  1. Allowing conflict of interest to develop between the student and the faculty member;
  2. Placing inappropriate demands upon a student; and/or
  3. Failing to follow principles of scholarly integrity with respect to the research and work of students.

17) The formal review of supervisory privileges will be conducted by the Dean of the College in consultation with the appropriate Faculty Dean.

18) Upon a formal review, the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies can set or remove limitations on a faculty member’s supervisory privileges in consultation with the appropriate Dean or designate.

19) Removal of supervisory privileges by the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies should occur only in exceptional circumstances, or when remedial or mentoring efforts have not changed the pattern or concerns that initiated the formal review.

20) Should a faculty member’s supervisory privileges be removed, the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies will set a timeline for consideration of renewal in consultation with the appropriate Faculty Dean.

21) Removal of a faculty member’s supervisory privileges does not result in a loss of membership in the College of Graduate Studies. However, removal or limitation of supervisory privileges means that one is not a member in good standing of the College of Graduate Studies.

Continuity of Supervision

22) In agreeing to supervise a graduate student, an individual is committing to supervising that graduate student through to timely completion of their degree (refer to Duration of Program under Academic Regulations) or withdrawal from the graduate program.

23) If, for any reason, the supervisor is unable to continue supervising a master’s or doctoral student for a temporary period (e.g., sabbatical, leave of absence), the supervisor, the graduate program coordinator, and the graduate program must arrange for temporary alternative supervision. A supervisor should provide notice of planned temporary absence to the graduate program coordinator and the student at least four months prior to their absence in order for appropriate alternative supervision to be arranged.

24) If a supervisor is permanently leaving the University, the supervisor, the graduate program coordinator, and the graduate program must arrange for alternative supervision. A supervisor should provide notice of departure to the graduate program coordinator at least four months prior to their departure in order for appropriate alternative supervision to be arranged. The supervisor may continue as co-supervisor after they leave the University if they are able and willing to do so, pending College of Graduate Studies’ approval.

25) Under exceptional circumstances, a supervisor or graduate student may request permission from the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies to discontinue the supervisory relationship.

26) If, despite best efforts, alternative supervision cannot be found, the student will be required to withdraw from the graduate program.

Responsibilities

27) The Graduate Council shall establish and revise procedures under this policy for the administration of membership in the College of Graduate Studies, including procedures for appealing a faculty recommendation to place limitations on supervisory privileges and procedures for appealing removal of supervisory privileges.

Calendar Statement(s):

There is no Calendar statement associated with this policy.

Consultations:

The following groups have been consulted during the development of this policy:

Graduate Council, Associate Deans Research and Graduate Studies, Graduate Student Advisory Council

History:

This is the third version of this policy; however, provisions concerning membership in the College of Graduate Studies accompanied previous versions of Policy O-4.2: Governance of the College of Graduate Studies in procedures.

 

9.2 Supervisors

SUPERVISOR SELECTION

All students must have either an interim advisor or an approved supervisor at the time of first registration. The initial selection of a supervisor should be by mutual agreement between the student and faculty member and approved by the graduate program coordinator.

SUPERVISOR ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

Continuity of supervision throughout a graduate program is important to student success. Normally, all tenured or tenure track (including grant tenured or tenure-track) UBC Okanagan faculty who hold the rank of Assistant, Associate or Professor are approved by their faculty for membership in the College of Graduate Studies. It is from this pool of faculty members that students normally select a supervisor; however, it may be appropriate under specific circumstances for a student to work with a qualified individual as their supervisor who does not belong to this pool.  Senate policy O-9 describes the pathway to supervision, co-supervision, and committee membership for other qualified individuals.

For each graduate student with a new (inexperienced) supervisor, an experienced faculty member should serve as a co-supervisor or as a member of the supervisory committee.

The proposed supervisor must understand the time and funding commitments expected of them and be familiar with the current graduate program and College of Graduate Studies regulations. The relevant graduate program coordinator must ensure that supervision will be provided to the student for the probable time period required for the completion of the degree program.

The supervisor should be currently active in research in an area related to the research interests of the student. Faculty members working on their own graduate degrees cannot be approved to any supervisory capacity without special dispensation from the dean of the College of Graduate Studies.

Students are entitled to continuity of supervision. In the case of the resignation from the University, illness or death of the supervisor, the relevant graduate program coordinator must make immediate arrangements to provide continuity of supervision pending the appointment of a new supervisor.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

The relationship between the supervisor and the student is an academic one. Where other relationships exist or develop that might give the appearance of conflict of interest, they must be immediately reported to the relevant graduate program coordinator who will consult with the associate dean or dean of the College of Graduate Studies, if the graduate program coordinator is unable to resolve the situation. In situations where the supervisor/co-supervisor or committee members are domestic partners, one additional committee member is required.

RESPONSIBILITIES OF SUPERVISORS

KNOWLEDGE OF RULES AND PROCEDURES

Supervisors should be familiar with the rules and procedures of the College of Graduate Studies and program regulations and requirements.

MEETINGS BETWEEN THE GRADUATE STUDENT AND THE SUPERVISOR

Both the graduate student and the supervisor have a shared responsibility to meet on a regular basis. It is important for supervisors to be available to provide guidance and feedback to graduate students, especially for those who are new to graduate studies and/or new to Canada. The frequency of meetings may vary by discipline, stage in the program, nature of the project and the independence of the student. These could be weekly, bi-weekly or monthly meetings.

“Frequent meetings with graduate students at which academic, research and other issues are addressed, progress is reviewed, evaluation is provided, and future activities are identified are extremely important for the success of students” (CAGS, 2008, Guiding Principles for Graduate Student Supervision, p.3).

THE ROLE OF THE SUPERVISOR

To be an effective graduate supervisor, a faculty member must first recognize the responsibilities of the role, and ensure that these are met to the best of their abilities with each graduate student.

The critical relationship between a research graduate student and their supervisor should always be academic and professional, with an emphasis on a mutually open, committed, and respectful relationship. The supervisor should act as both an academic mentor, with an emphasis on guidance, instruction, and encouragement of scholarship and research, and as an evaluator of the student’s performance. A fundamental duty of the supervisor is to impart to the student the skills necessary to plan and conduct original research.

Specifically, the supervisor should:

  • Work with the student to establish a realistic timetable for the completion of the various requirements of the program of study;
  • Discuss with the student and establish mutual expectations for the student’s vacation time (students are entitled to three weeks of vacation during each twelve month academic year);
  • Develop a relationship with the student conducive to research and intellectual growth;
  • Guide and mentor the student concerning the research ethics approval process and concerning the intellectual property issues around their thesis or dissertation research;
  • Guide the student in the pursuit of knowledge and provide constructive criticism in support of the highest standards of research and professional development;
  • Mentor the student in areas such as, but not limited to, the development of
    appropriate professional skills, funding applications, networking, assistance with publications, and career development.

The College of Graduate Studies has developed a Checklist of Expectations for Graduate Student and Supervisor to define the expectations and responsibilities of the graduate student and the supervisor. The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (Vancouver campus), in consultation with the Graduate Student Society and UBC Counsel office, has created several documents that outline the expectations of the student-supervisor relationship.

JUDGMENT OF STUDENT PERFORMANCE

Supervisors and Graduate program coordinators must inform students on a regular basis about their academic progress. If a student’s performance is judged to be below an acceptable level, this judgment should be expressed to the student formally and in writing at as early a stage in the graduate program as possible. If academic programs remains unsatisfactory, a student may be required to withdraw from their program of studies.

PARTICIPATION OF SUPERVISOR IN THESIS/DISSERTATION PREPARATION

The supervisor is expected to provide frequent and prompt comments on drafts of thesis and dissertation chapters. Normal turn-around time should not exceed three to six weeks. While the supervisor should attempt to be critically constructive and encouraging, the thesis or dissertation must be the creation of the student.

SUPERVISORY PROVISION FOR LEAVE OF ABSENCE

“Continuity of supervision is an integral component of [the student/supervisor] relationship, since it provides (or should provide) stability, security, an opportunity to establish sufficient mutual knowledge and trust to facilitate effective intellectual debate, and generally an environment that allows optimal focus on the goals of the graduate program.” (CAGS, 2008, p. 5)

Graduate programs and supervisors must ensure that students are provided with adequate supervision when supervisors are on leave. This purpose can be accomplished in several ways, including through the appointment of a co-supervisor. Students should be informed well in advance about the plans a supervisor may have for a sabbatical leave. With current means of communication, continued supervision while on a sabbatical leave is the normal expectation for faculty members. These arrangements must be communicated in writing to the relevant graduate program coordinator, who bears the responsibility for ensuring continuity of supervision for students in his/her graduate program.

When a co-supervisor is appointed to cover a period of the supervisor’s absence, the regular supervisor retains final responsibility for the adequate supervision of the student. Faculty members approved as co-supervisors must indicate in writing to the graduate program coordinator their willingness to accept responsibility for the day-to-day supervision of such students. To do so, they must submit a Change of Student Supervisor Committee Member to the College of Graduate Studies.

SUGGESTED PROCEDURES FOR CONFLICT RESOLUTION

Students should attempt first to resolve problems with their supervisor by talking to the supervisor. The co-supervisor (if applicable) or a supervisory committee member may be able to give helpful advice in this situation. Problems that are not resolved in this fashion should be discussed with the graduate program coordinator, and then the department head or equivalent. If a solution cannot be reached, the student and/or the graduate program coordinator may consult the College of Graduate Studies for advice about a resolution to the issue.

PROCEDURES FOR THE CURTAILMENT OF SUPERVISORY DUTIES

The dean of the College of Graduate Studies approves the initial appointment of a faculty member -as nominated by their faculty dean- for membership in the College of Graduate Studies and/or for the privilege of supervisory duties. If a complaint is made against a supervisor, the dean of the College of Graduate Studies will first discuss the matter with the relevant graduate program coordinator and the department head or equivalent, and then with the faculty member concerned. The issue may be resolved informally. If the dean decides that a more formal approach is needed to resolve the dispute, the Dean will also discuss the matter with the relevant Faculty Dean. The Dean of the College of Graduate Studies will then inform both the department head or equivalent, the faculty dean, and the faculty member of his/her conclusions in writing. If the result of the dean’s investigation is curtailment of the supervisory duties of the faculty member, the dean will inform the faculty member in writing.

9.3 Supervisory Committee

Depending on the program, the student’s supervisory committee is formed at the outset of a student’s program or when the student begins work on the thesis proposal (master’s students) or comprehensive exams (doctoral students). The supervisor and any co-supervisors are automatically members of this committee. Other committee members may be drawn from inside or outside the program in which the student is registered. (Graduate program coordinators in IGS programs should note specific IGS supervisory committee requirements outlined below.) The supervisory committee is responsible for the intensive mentoring, supervisory and examination work on the student’s thesis proposal, comprehensive exams, dissertation prospectus, and dissertation.

Faculty members sit on supervisory committees to provide support and be available for consultation on student theses/dissertations. Varying types of expertise can provide different perspectives on theses progress.

To fully benefit from a supervisory committee, a student should:

  • Ask the committee for advice and guidance on thesis or dissertation development and direction early in their program;
  • Be in regular contact with their committee as research progresses and the thesis or dissertation develops;
  • Ask for feedback on written materials from individual committee members;
  • Request their supervisor call a full committee meeting at various stages in the development process.

MASTER’S STUDENTS

The student’s supervisory committee guides the student in planning his/her research and in preparing the thesis. Committee composition must conform to the following the guidelines:

  • The committee must comprise at least three faculty members.
    • For each supervisor/co-supervisor, there must be at least one committee member (ex. if there are three supervisors/co-supervisors, there must be at least three additional committee members).
  • The committee may include faculty members from other graduate programs.
  • The committee may include qualified non-faculty members or faculty external to UBC upon approval of the dean of the College of Graduate Studies.
  • To reduce the risk of discontinuities in supervision, at least two members of the committee must be faculty members on the UBC Okanagan campus. 

DOCTORAL STUDENTS

The student’s supervisory committee guides the student in planning his/her research and in preparing the dissertation. Committee composition must conform to the following the guidelines:

  • The committee must comprise at least three faculty members.
    • For each supervisor/co-supervisor, there must be at least one committee member (ex. if there are three supervisors/co-supervisors, there must be at least three additional committee members).
  • The committee may include faculty members from other graduate programs.
  • The committee may include qualified non-faculty members or faculty external to UBC upon approval of the dean of the College of Graduate Studies.
  • To reduce the risk of discontinuities in supervision, at least two members of the committee must be faculty members on the UBC Okanagan campus. 

IGS SUPERVISORY COMMITTEES

IGS supervisory committees additionally require:

  • At least one member of the supervisory committee to be from an area outside of the supervisor’s discipline.
  • Evidence of faculty experience and expertise to support the academic plan of study.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

The relationship between the supervisory committee and the student is an academic one. Where other relationships exist or develop that might give the appearance of conflict of interest, they must be immediately reported to the relevant graduate program coordinator who will consult with the associate dean or dean of the College of Graduate Studies, if the graduate program coordinator is unable to resolve the situation. In situations where the supervisor/co-supervisor or committee members are domestic partners, one additional committee member is required.

PARTICIPATION OF SUPERVISORY COMMITTEE MEMBERS IN THESIS OR DISSERTATION PREPARATION

Supervisory committee members are expected to provide prompt comments on drafts of the thesis or dissertation. Normal turn-around time should not exceed three to six weeks.

CHANGES IN COMMITTEE MEMBERS

It may be necessary for a student to change committee members during the program. Reasons for committee member changes include, but are not limited to: change of research area, sabbatical, leave, retirement. If a change in committee members is required, the student should complete and submit the Change of Student Supervisor Committee Member.

9.4 Graduate Program Coordinators

Graduate program coordinators assist students (and their supervisors) who are pursuing graduate degrees in their departments or programs through each stage of the graduate education process (application, progression and completion). Graduate program coordinators fulfill the key administrative duties pertaining to graduate studies in a department or program. Departments create their own graduate program coordinator position description and graduate committee terms of reference, including committee membership guidelines.

COMMUNICATIONS

The graduate program coordinator compiles and coordinates information concerning deadlines, procedures, and other matters of programmatic interest, and communicates these regularly to graduate students and faculty members. S/he ensures that faculty who are supervising or teaching graduate students are aware of, and adhere to, applicable policies and procedures.

It is the responsibility of the graduate program coordinator to survey the department head or program director and program colleagues about key Graduate Council and/or Interdisciplinary Graduate Studies Committee discussion issues prior to meetings, and then to communicate new College of Graduate Studies policy and procedural decisions, as well as information about workshops and other upcoming events, back to their department head or program director and colleagues.

STUDENT ADVISING

The graduate program coordinator answers current student and supervisor inquiries. This activity occurs throughout the year and concerns graduate courses, scholarships, proposals, PhD candidacy and other degree progression matters. Such questions may need to be forwarded to the College of Graduate Studies office for response and the graduate program coordinator him/herself may need to contact the College of Graduate Studies for clarification of its policies. Graduate program coordinators are encouraged to first consult the College of Graduate Studies website.

SUBMISSION OF FORMS

Graduate program coordinators and supervisors should keep a copy of all paperwork submitted to the College of Graduate Studies for department/program records.