Policy Change Updates

Graduate Research Assistant Appointment Eligibility -- Revision 11 October 2021

The Executive Council of Graduate Faculty proposed revisions to the Graduate Research Assistant Appointment Eligibility policy. Provost Bichelmeyer approved the changes, which were published in the Policy Library on 11 October 2021. These changes will take effect for the Summer 2022 term so, until then, both the old and new versions of the policy will remain visible in the Policy Library, for reference.

You can review both versions at the links below.

Rationale

This policy change represents Graduate Studies' first step toward a broader goal of achieving parity between the 3G appointment types (GRA, GTA, and GA). It removes the summer enrollment requirement for GRA employment eligibility. Previously, GRAs were required to enroll for summer in order to be eligible for their GRA employment while GTAs and GAs were not.

Please Note: Some students may be subject to several reasons that they are required to enroll for summer. This proposal eliminates one such but does not override another. (For example, a requirement placed on international students would still apply.)

Review Procedure

This revision proposal was developed in collaboration between the Office of Graduate Studies and the Executive Council of Graduate Faculty. The Executive Council formally reviewed the revision language twice, circulating the proposal draft for campus-wide stakeholder review and comment between their discussions. The draft was sent to the following stakeholders directly, and they were also invited to share it with any contacts they thought might be interested, as well. We received only enthusiastically positive feedback to this proposal. Campus was very excited to see this happen.

  • Deans
  • Associate Deans
  • Department Chairs
  • Directors of Graduate Study
  • School-level Graduate Administrators
  • The Office of Research
  • Shared Service Center Leadership
  • Human Resources Management
  • International Support Services
  • International Affairs
  • Graduate Enrollment Management
  • Financial Aid and Scholarships
  • The Provost's Office
  • The Policy Office
  • The Office of the General Counsel

Change Summary

This revision removes the summer enrollment requirement specific to GRA employment eligibility and, instead, adopts language parallel to that currently in place in the comparable GTA eligibility policy. It further clarifies that GRAs should have independent discretion about whether to enroll for summer and, if they choose to do so, shall be covered by the provisions of the GTA/GRA/GA Benefits policy.

Please Note: Some students may be subject to several reasons that they are required to enroll for summer. This proposal eliminates one such but does not override another. (For example, a requirement placed on international students would still apply.)

Admissions and English Proficiency -- Revision, 2 August 2021

The Executive Council of Graduate Faculty, as advised by Graduate Enrollment Management, the Applied English Center, International Affairs, and other stakeholders, proposed revisions to the policies governing Admission to Graduate Study and English Proficiency Requirements for Admission to Graduate Study. Provost Bichelmeyer approved the proposals on 3 June 2021. These changes were published and effective as of 2 August 2021, for the upcoming 2022 admission cycles.

You can review both policies at the links below.

Rationale

These changes remove barriers to recruitment, arrival, and enrollment of graduate students by removing an equity gap created by the interaction of university policy and federal immigration regulations. In addition, these policy revisions support KU’s efforts to advance holistic admissions practices university-wide and align our standards more fully with national best-practice recommendations.

Review Procedure

Specialist work groups representing Graduate Enrollment Management, International Affairs, the Applied English Center, and Graduate Studies developed both proposals over the summer and fall of 2020. The Executive Council of Graduate Faculty formally reviewed them twice. Between Council reviews, the proposals circulated campus-wide for stakeholder review and comment in February 2021, including to the following stakeholders.

  • Deans
  • Associate Deans
  • Department Chairs
  • Directors of Graduate Study
  • School-level Graduate Staff
  • International Support Services
  • Graduate Military Programs
  • The Lieutenant General William K. Jones Military-Affiliated Student Center
  • Financial Aid and Scholarships
  • The Provost’s Office
  • The Policy Office
  • The Office of the General Counsel

We received no feedback about major concerns or reservations.

Change Summary

In combination, the attached proposals eliminate the “Provisional Admission” category by combining it with “Regular Admission” in order to ensure the same standards apply to domestic and international applicants. In order to advance holistic admissions practices and smooth the path for applicants to study at KU, we also eliminate the university-wide GPA minimum and establish additional methods for applicants to demonstrate English proficiency.

Specific changes include the following.

  • Admissions
    • Removal of the Provisional Admission category
      • Instead: Admission proficiency standards set at levels that align with AEC coursework requirements for admission
    • Removal of the university-level minimum GPA requirement
      • Instead: Delegation of authority to set GPA requirements by program, department, or school
    • Removal of the restriction against bachelor’s degrees containing credit awarded for work not supervised by faculty (e.g., life experience)
    • Removal of the “Easy Admit” process
    • Addition of cross-reference to the Co-Enrollment policy
  • English Proficiency
    • Removal of the Provisional Proficiency category
      • Instead: Regular Proficiency standards set at the previous level of Provisional Admission
      • Please NOTE: Students previously categorized as provisional will now be fully admissible to graduate study and eligible for immigration documentation. However, they may also be required to complete additional English-language coursework through the AEC upon arrival.
    • Removal of the requirement that online-only program applicants needed Full Proficiency to be admitted
      • Instead: allow admission to online-only programs at Admission Proficiency level
    • Inclusion of speaking scores in evaluation of English proficiency for admission
      • Use total scores instead of only some reported part scores
    • Establishment of the level at which partial completion of AEC coursework demonstrates proficiency sufficient for graduate admission
    • Revision of the standardized test cut scores, in accordance with guidance from the AEC and testing agencies
    • Removal of the cut score table from the body of the policy onto a website
      • This facilitates more flexible response to global events and test changes

Seniors and Graduate Study (Co-Enrollment) -- Revision, 12 July 2021

The Executive Council of Graduate Faculty proposed the following changes to the Seniors and Graduate Study (Co-Enrollment) policy, which Provost Bichelmeyer approved on 10 June 2021. These changes have been published and are effective immediately.

Rationale:

This revision makes one substantive change: it opens co-enrollment in a KU graduate program to well-prepared undergraduate seniors at other institutions as long as the home undergraduate institution has a documented partnership with the KU graduate department. This is intended to expand the recruitment pipeline from area colleges and to smooth the path for undergraduate students in the region to pursue graduate work at KU. Our website now also hosts an overview and roster of co-enrollment partnerships.

In addition, the Office of Graduate Studies performed routine cleanup, updating links and clarifying technical points about administration of co-enrollment.

Review Procedure:

This Executive Council of Graduate Faculty first took up consideration of this proposal in Fall 2018. During that semester, the proposal completed most of the standard policy review steps, including two formal readings by the Council and circulation for campus-wide stakeholder review and comment. Unfortunately, its further progress was delayed while the Office of Graduate Studies underwent restructure. The Council resumed its review and approval process for this policy in January 2021, conducting a third formal review and discussion to ensure that the proposed changes remained appropriate and desirable following the delay. They voted to endorse the proposal for the Provost's final review and approval in March 2021.

Bylaws Governing the Executive Council of Graduate Faculty -- New, 25 Feb. 2021

The Executive Council of Graduate Faculty has adopted new governing bylaws for itself.

Rationale

In approximately 2006, KU’s Graduate School was abolished. After a little more than a year with no comparable unit, KU reconstituted an Office of Graduate Studies with a dramatically narrowed scope of responsibility. The re-establishment of the office included establishment of an Executive Council of Graduate Faculty to exercise faculty oversight of graduate education policy and process. However, the Council never formally adopted bylaws by which to operate.

During the Office of Graduate Studies’ 2019-20 restructure, the Interim Dean recommended that the Council develop formal bylaws to govern its operations, ensuring transparency and consistency in its conduct of business on behalf of all Graduate Faculty at KU. The initiative began under her leadership and has continued as a cornerstone of the permanent Vice Provost's early agenda.

Review Procedure

The Council discussed the developing bylaws at nearly every meeting for a year and a half. They based their early efforts on best practices and models available from internal governance organizations and national peers. In accordance with established policy review procedures, a late-stage draft circulated for a two-week campus-wide review and comment period in Fall 2020. That review included the following campus stakeholders:

  • Deans
  • Associate Deans
  • Department Chairs
  • Directors of Graduate Study (DGSes)
  • The Office of the General Counsel
  • Assistant Vice Provost Redeker
  • The Policy Office

Policy Summary

In summary, the new bylaws outline the expectations for membership in the Council, meeting attendance and between-meeting conduct of business, designated activities of the Council, and procedures for voting, policy revision, committee delegation, and changes to the bylaws.

Engagement and Enrollment in Doctoral Programs -- New, 17 Dec. 2020

The Executive Council of Graduate Faculty proposed retiring the Doctoral Program Time Constraints policy and replacing it with a new policy, Engagement and Enrollment in Doctoral Programs, which Provost Bichelmeyer approved on 17 December 2020. These changes have been published and are effective immediately.

Rationale

This new policy responds to the needs of several professional schools to develop doctoral programs that intentionally serve part-time students and/or students for whom a physical, on-campus residence period impedes progress toward the degree. The intent behind the new policy is to be more inclusive and welcoming to students from non-traditional backgrounds and to smooth the path for them to pursue graduate work at KU while maintaining our high standards for academic rigor in doctoral programs.

Changes

In summary, the new policy eliminates the full-time, on-campus residency requirement and, instead, emphasizes a minimum period of pre-comprehensive enrollment and rigorous engagement in the degree program. It allows doctoral students to meet these engagement requirements by enrolling either part-time or full-time in any combination of on-ground, hybrid, and online courses at KU, as deemed appropriate by the degree-granting program or department. Students must abide by any additional or corollary requirements or limitations set by the degree program, department, or school. Specific elements of the new policy include:

  • New policy name: the old policy was fully retired and this new policy has been published as a replacement
  • Eliminate the requirement for two full-time semesters physically resident on campus and replace the residency requirement with a choice between:
    • Two fall and/or spring semesters of full-time enrollment in KU coursework as defined by university policy OR
    • At least 18 hours of enrollment in KU coursework spread out over several part-time semesters
    • Either of these options must be completed prior to the semester in which the student takes the comprehensive exam.
  • Shift emphasis from full-time enrollment and physical residency toward sustained intellectual engagement and academic rigor
  • Eliminate the option to count master's degrees earned at other institutions toward the KU residency requirement (Note: Master's degrees earned at KU still count.)
  • Explicitly permit counting online, remote, or distance courses (taken at KU) toward the engagement and enrollment requirement
  • Explicitly require that students meet all applicable program, department, or school requirements
  • Remove the discussion of academic Leave of Absence from this policy, since it is addressed in its own, standalone policy

Review Procedure

The new policy was developed through collaboration with the Executive Council of Graduate Faculty and with the Schools of Social Welfare, Pharmacy, and Education. The Executive Council conducted four formal reviews of proposed policy language and circulated two drafts for campus-wide stakeholder review and comment between their discussions. The following campus stakeholders received the drafts for comment.

  • Deans
  • Associate Deans
  • Department Chairs
  • Directors of Graduate Study
  • Graduate Coordinators
  • Graduate Liaisons in all professional schools and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
  • The Office of the University Registrar
  • Student Information Systems
  • Financial Aid and Scholarships
  • Graduate Enrollment Management
  • Graduate Military Programs
  • International Scholar Services
  • The Policy Office

Feedback Received

The Executive Council enjoyed substantial feedback and lengthy, sustained discussions with stakeholders throughout the several rounds of review. The Council deliberated over all of the feedback and used it to determine the best overall approach. In particular, they addressed the following considerations.

  • Many faculty stakeholders feel strongly that intense immersion in a discipline or field of study is a cornerstone of doctoral education, so to remove that requirement would compromise the value of a KU doctoral degree as well as our ranking among our national peers. The Council addressed this concern by retaining two full-time semesters as the preferred option for demonstrating engagement while also providing an alternative enrollment format for those programs who find it beneficial.
  • Some stakeholders argued that permitting part-time pursuit of Ph.D. degrees may have unintended consequences for the sustainability and marketability of professional doctorates historically marketed to full-time working professionals. Council recognized this concern but upheld the traditional KU policy expectation that departments and schools may always set more stringent requirements than those outlined in university policy. Since an existing remote Ph.D. program currently operating at KU provided data demonstrating that they would be better served by the option to allow part-time enrollments as well, the Council opted to set the minimum bar for all doctorates at the same level and grant maximum flexibility to programs, departments, and schools to set more appropriately stringent standards where necessary.
  • The Council concurred with feedback that the option to pursue a given doctoral program remotely or on a part-time basis should be determined at the program level by the faculty, not on an individual, case-by-case basis by the student.
  • A number of thorough discussions concerning the procedural mechanics of administering this policy also yielded significant improvements over the course of several drafts.

The Office of Graduate Studies is very grateful for the sustained and thoughtful participation of all stakeholders in developing and improving this new policy.

Graduate Credit -- Revision, 17 Dec. 2020

The Executive Council of Graduate Faculty proposed the following changes to the Graduate Credit policy, which Provost Bichelmeyer approved on 17 December 2020. These changes have been published and are effective immediately.

Rationale

This revision made two primary changes to the policy governing transfer credit into master's programs. Both changes aim to reduce or remove administrative barriers to recruitment of new students. One is prompted by a recognition that, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, future students may wish to transfer courses in which they did not earn a letter grade for reasons outside their control.

The other change creates an opportunity for KU programs to establish formalized partnerships with other institutions, through which students may be able to transfer more than nine credit hours earned elsewhere toward a master's degree granted by KU. The expectation remains that the additional hours will still meet all of KU's established standards for master's-level transfer credit.

The Council also took the opportunity to clarify that an existing restriction on earning graduate credit for courses graded C- and below applies to both degree- and certificate-seeking students.

Changes

Specific updates to the policy include:

  • Establishment of a Memorandum of Understanding with a partner institution may allow programs to accept more than nine hours of transfer credit toward a KU master's degree.
  • In cases of natural or other disaster, KU master's programs may accept courses for transfer credit which carry non-letter grades as long as a transcript note or other documentation demonstrates a wide-scale shift to a non-letter grading scale.
  • Technical edit: courses earning a C- and below do not count toward a graduate degree or certificate.

Review Procedure

This policy change was developed in collaboration with the Executive Council of Graduate Faculty and through circulation for campus-wide stakeholder review and comment, which included the following campus stakeholders:

  • Deans
  • Associate Deans
  • Graduate Military Programs
  • Lt. Gen. William K. Jones Military-Affiliated Student Center
  • The Office of the University Registrar
  • Graduate Enrollment Management
  • Department Chairs
  • Directors of Graduate Study
  • Graduate Coordinators
  • The Policy Office


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