Home » Uncategorized » CUPE News: Dalla Lana plans radical changes to student funding packages

CUPE News: Dalla Lana plans radical changes to student funding packages

Please see below an overview of the recent proposals from the administration and their potential consequences. This comes from the CUPE representatives in the Working Group on Graduate Funding, and demonstrates the administration’s bad faith when working through these groups – they say they will discuss funding, then allow a school to unilaterally and radically change funding structures.

It has recently come to the attention of the union that the Dalla Lana
School of Public Health is discussing a proposed review of their
current funding models, requiring incoming students in the 2013/14
academic year (and all students from the following academic year) to
take on combined TA/RA work that accounts for 70% of the combined
value of $15,000 + tuition and fees unless they secure a major
external award. This would amount to $16,380 for domestic students and
to $23,667 for international students, both amounts being well above
those currently adopted in any other department in any division. All
this is happening before the Provostial Committee on Graduate Student
Funding – established by the last CUPE 3902 Unit 1 Collective
Agreement to examine weaknesses in the current funding model – has
even formulated a recommendation for the Provost about the appropriate
balance between employment income and fellowships within the funding
package.

In order to avoid any misunderstanding, in this context “RAship” means
taxable income resulting from compensation for work unrelated to one’s
dissertation.  It does not refer to forms of research compensation,
often coming in the form of stipends, from supervisor’s grants (this
was, in fact, the previous system, based on the common frame of the
Harmonized System recently implemented by the Faculty of Medicine).

While the complete breakdown in terms of working hours is not yet
available, the potential harm of such a proposal cannot escape us. In
addition to its catastrophic effects on the directly affected
students, the potential consequences affect us all, as this proposal:
• dramatically affects the ratio between fellowship and work in the
funding package (whose balancing is one of the main mandates of the
PCGSF);
• it sanctions de facto the inclusion of taxable RAships in the
guaranteed funding;
• it erodes the fellowship portion in the funding package to
unprecedented levels, especially in its principle that U of T should
be considered as the last resort when it comes to funding;
• it creates the dangerous principle that graduate students in the
funded cohort are supposed to pay for their tuition – under the form
of work, or otherwise;
• it therefore establishes a potential inequality between domestic
students and international students, where the latter could be asked
to work for hundreds of hours more in order to make up for different
levels of tuition.
While the Union is formally challenging this proposal on several
grounds, all 6 student members of the PCGSFS (2 from CUPE, 3 from GSU,
and 1 from the GEC student component) wrote a joint letter to the
Faculty Members of the committee, withholding their participation in
it until this appalling proposal is retracted.

Finally, the time frame for acting is extremely limited: the School of
Public Health wishes to adopt some version of this model for the next
academic year (2013-14) and implement it by the end of the month so
they can finalize funding decisions for next year’s incoming cohort.

Attached you will find the Dalla Lana School of Public Health review
draft and the joint letter sent by the student members on the
Committee.

For further information, feel free to contact:

Wayne Dealy: gmf@cupe3902.org
Valentina Fulginiti: ismf@cupe3902.org (or valentina.fulginiti@utoronto.ca)

In solidarity,

Valentina Fulginiti
Wayne Dealy

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