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The road to graduate student success

School of Graduate Studies working group to take a close look at student experience.

Fahim Quadir speaking to a student.
Fahim Quadir, Queen's Vice-Provost and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies, speaks with a student.

The Queen’s School of Graduate Studies has established a working group aimed at exploring possibilities of improving the graduate student experience at the university. This initiative was launched after discussions at a Board/Senate retreat in March 2018 and a subsequent memo drafted by Principal and Vice-Chancellor Daniel Woolf. As the future of work, student expectations, changing demographics, academic and personal supports, and funding continues to evolve, the group will analyze and make recommendations as to how Queen’s can meet these changes and challenges.

“Today’s students are looking for something new and innovative in a graduate program,” says Fahim Quadir, who joined Queen’s as Vice-Provost and Dean of the School of Graduate Studies from York University in July 2018. “They want programming that complements their academic expectations, considers their professional outlook in an evolving job market, and acknowledges their well-being as essential to their success.”

Since arriving, Dr. Quadir has been working to enhance the graduate student experience, foster excellence in research for both graduate students and post-doctoral scholars, and revitalize the foundations for student success.

“As graduate education in much of North America undergoes a transformation, we need to develop a thorough yet critical understanding of its evolving landscape,” says Dr. Quadir. “Today’s changing realities demand a new way of thinking about graduate studies but also underscore the need to introduce creative structures that champion innovative programming to maintain academic excellence, enhance the graduate student experience, promote ‘deep diversity’ and make the process of knowledge production global. One of our key priorities would be to adapt our approach to give students the best chance at success.”

The working group will convene stakeholder consultations over the coming months to explore key drivers of graduate student success, such as experiential learning, career preparedness, well-being, student supervision, and access to many different forms of support. Group members will look closely at students’ satisfaction with their academic experience, access to adequate mental health services, financial opportunities, and variables that affect the time it takes graduate students to complete their studies – with particular attention paid to how these areas of the student experience intersect.

The working group, which held its first official meeting in January, will also consider ways in which Queen’s can continue to intensify a culture of research for graduate students.

“Graduate students play a central role in shaping the frontiers of research,” says Dr. Quadir. “So much amazing work is being done by graduate students here at Queen’s. It is important for us to magnify the prominence of their contributions to advancing scholarship.”

The working group will gather data throughout the Winter Term, producing a final report for the Principal and Vice-Chancellor Woolf in May that will include short-, medium-, and long-term goals for strengthening the graduate student experience. Recommendations will include best practices that can be customized and applied at both the institutional and program levels.

“Our goal is to make Queen’s the preferred destination for graduate education, known for its excellent graduate student experience,” says Dr. Quadir.

For more information on the working group, contact Heather Merla at the School of Graduate Studies.