Graduate Student - Supervisor Agreement

Note that the Department does not have the authority to say who may or may not supervise its graduate students. This decision is clearly the prerogative of Graduate Studies Faculty.

Letters of Acceptance and Commitment were introduced in 1999, now called Graduate Student - Supervisor Agreement, in order to formalize the student-supervisor relationship. According to the most recent report of the Ombudsman of the University, difficulties between supervisors and graduate students are the most common complaint voiced in the University. Although the Graduate Section has limited authority to "police" this relationship the Department has an obligation to do all that it can to ensure that relationships between supervisors and graduate students remain strong and viable. All changes and policies outlined below were ratified by the Finance and Planning Committee and subsequently by the Department.

At the end of the "Graduate Student - Supervisor Agreement is the detailed financial plan of the supervisor for each student. This is particularly important if the supervisor is soon to retire or go on sabbatical leave. It also serves to focus the attention of the supervisor on his or her need to ensure adequate funding for the student's project, that the project can be completed in a timely fashion, that the student will have adequate personal support, etc. At the same time faculty are pleased to see students enter into a formal commitment to their host laboratory and to completion of their assigned research project. The Department of Physiology is one of the first departments to instigate such a formalization and the Division IV Executive Committee of the School of Graduate Studies is now urging all departments to consider similar forms. The Graduate Studies Committee reviews all of the letters of acceptance at one of its meetings and identifies any potential difficulties. The committee may suggest improvements or solutions at this juncture.

Annual Review of All Graduate Students by the Graduate Section

The Graduate Studies committee undertakes to review the Annual Reports of all graduate students in the Department. At this time the Committee will examine whether or not the student has substantially exceeded the recommended program duration. The University and the School of Graduate Studies impose a number of limitations on the duration of students' programs. These rules are set out in the SGS Handbook. Extensions are possible but only with permission of the Department. The Graduate Studies Committee reviews all requests for such extensions. In most circumstances the extensions are granted, however the Committee reserves the right to request additional information about student progress, expectation of completion date, etc. The Committee may require additional members for the supervisor committee.

Initial Commitment of Supervisor and Graduate Student

Supervisors should submit a Graduate Student - Supervisor Agreement for each incoming student, and thereafter annually. In the agreement the prospective supervisor outlines their commitment to the student in terms of personal financial support, project financial support and extent of supervision for that student's research program. The letter serves as the formal commitment of the student to his or her program and to the host laboratory. While every effort should be made to ensure adequate financial support for students, it is recognized that circumstances may make it difficult to ensure personal financial support and supervision for the duration of the student's research program. For example, a supervisor may be scheduled for sabbatical leave or retirement before the end of the student's program, or may leave the University of Toronto to accept another position, or external funding may not be guaranteed for the duration of the program. In such cases a contingency plans should be submitted for approval to the Graduate Studies Committee outlining alternative financial and supervisory arrangements.