University-Related Employment for Full-Time Graduate Students
In order to qualify as full time under ministry rules, graduate students must:
- Be pursuing studies as a full-time occupation.
- Identify themselves as full-time graduate students.
- Be designated by the university as full-time graduate students.
- Be geographically available and visit the campus regularly, graduate students, while still under supervision, may be absent from their university (e.g. visiting libraries, doing field work, attending a graduate course at another institution, etc.) provided that, if any such period of absence exceeds four weeks in any one term, written evidence shall be available in the Graduate Studies Office to the effect that the absence has the approval of the chairperson of the department and the dean of Graduate Studies.
- Be considered to be a full-time graduate student by his/her supervisor or equivalent (designated by the university)
A full-time graduate student at Laurier is defined as someone who works no more than 10 hours per week on campus (on average; 520 hours per year) in employment outside of their studies.
From the Ontario Council on Graduate Studies:
Full-time graduate students should be in a position to devote their full time and energy to a coherent program of graduate study and research, and should make full-time progress toward completion of the requirements of that program.
- Even though university-related employment (such as an assistantship for teaching, research or administrative tasks) may provide a significant portion of the financial support that enables a graduate student to pursue graduate study, and may provide experience that supplements the formal academic program in developing skills relevant to a future faculty position or other career, too much time spent on employment activities diverts time and energy from the program of study and research, and delays completion.
- The common benchmark for the maximum acceptable time spent on university-related (or other) employment for full-time graduate students is an average of 10 hours per week.
- Versions of the 10-hour rule have been adopted by the federal granting councils and the Ontario Graduate Scholarships, as well as by the Ontario Council on Graduate Studies.
Wilfrid Laurier University, as a member university of the Ontario Council on Graduate Studies upholds the 10-hour rule (i.e., that every member university is committed that full-time graduate students should not be permitted to work more than an average of 10 hours per week on campus, and should be encouraged to limit their time spent on employment either inside or outside the university to an average of no more than 10 hours per week).
Graduate Teaching Assistantship
A Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) assists academic units in delivering on their teaching mission. A GTA provides assistance to faculty while gaining valuable teaching experience. Responsibilities may include:
- Providing informal and formal advice to students.
- Assisting in the grading of tests, papers, lab reports and final exams.
- Assisting faculty in course development and/or course renewal.
- Conducting tutorial or lab sessions.
- Presenting one or more lectures in a class.
- Supervising field trips.
- Proctoring final examinations (expected for courses that have a final examination scheduled by Enrolment Services).
Assistantship functions do not include clerical, technical or administrative work not related to teaching.
Graduate Teaching Assistantship contracts are issued by the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and are funded from university operating funds. A GTA is expected to work an average of 10 hours per week or a maximum of 130 hours per term. Students who hold a Graduate Teaching Assistantship contract are required to complete the Teaching Assistantship: Job Responsibilities form and submit it to the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies by the beginning of classes each term in which the assistantship is held.
Graduate students may not hold a Contract Academic Staff (CAS) appointment at the same time as a Graduate Teaching Assistantship.
To receive payment, students must complete and submit the direct deposit form to the Payroll office.
Employment resources for graduate teaching assistants, including the Handbook for Graduate Teaching Assistants, can be found on the Human Resources website.
Terms and Conditions of Graduate Teaching Assistantships
All Graduate Teaching Assistantships are conditional on registering as a full-time student and on maintaining a full-time courseload (as defined by the department) during the term in which the assistantship is held. To ensure that a graduate student is able to actively pursue his/her graduate program on a full-time basis, no other teaching-related activity may be assigned for the term in which the assistantship is held (e.g., CAS appointment).
Assistantship contracts may be cancelled due to unsatisfactory performance, withdrawal from full-time registration, or holding a CAS letter of appointment. Wilfrid Laurier University reserves the right to reduce the employment responsibility of a student who holds a major external award for the year in which the award is held.
Teaching responsibilities will be assigned by the department, and may not exceed 130 hours per term. GTAs are required to serve the university in teaching for no more than the hours specified for the contract period. Responsibilities to undertake work in support of an ongoing research project may be assigned only with the approval of the Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.
GTAs are paid on the Food/Students payroll dates (or monthly, in certain circumstances). Payment is made by direct deposit. Questions regarding payroll, deductions, etc. should be directed to the Payroll office.
Students with Graduate Teaching Assistantship contracts are eligible to receive both employment earnings for services performed, and a fellowship to recognize the advancement of their education and the further development of their skills through the Graduate Teaching Assistantship experience.
Employment earnings are based on an hourly rate, subject to all statutory deductions, and include 4% vacation pay. The fellowship available to students undertaking Graduate Teaching Assistantship contracts and performing GTA duties as specified by the department is tax-exempt and reflected on a T4A at year-end. Students not undertaking GTA duties are ineligible for the fellowship.
Note: The Graduate Teaching Assistantship is made up of two components: the Teaching Assistantship and the Graduate Fellowship. Together they make up the total amount of the Graduate Teaching Assistantship, and they are paid together on a biweekly basis through Laurier's Payroll office.
Guidelines for Graduate Teaching Assistantship Responsibilities
An assistantship is awarded from university operating funds to enable departments with graduate programs to provide (a) assistance to faculty with their teaching responsibilities, and (b) graduate students with teaching experience. As a result, GTAs might be expected to provide informal and formal advice to students; assist in the grading of tests, papers, lab reports and final exams; and conduct tutorial or lab sessions. Assistantship functions shall not include clerical, technical or administrative work not related to teaching.
A teaching assistant cannot work more than an average of 10 hours per week or a maximum of 130 hours per term. To ensure that there is a fair, equitable and consistent interpretation of this regulation, the following guidelines are to be employed:
- The definition of the number of hours per week includes: compulsory attendance at lectures; preparation time for a teaching assignment (e.g. tutorial, lab, lecture, seminar); meeting time with the instructor; formal office hours. Voluntary attendance at lectures or professional development workshops and seminars does not count toward the maximum number of hours per week or term.
- In some weeks an instructor may require a GTA to work more or less than 10 hours per week because of the scheduling of such course requirements as mid-term exams, term papers, lab reports or final exams.
- A GTA cannot be required to work more than 15 hours in any one week, or more than 10 hours per three-day period, regardless of the urgency of the task. Any exceptions to this maximum must be agreed to, in writing, by the GTA at least three weeks in advance of the particular week in which the 10- or 15-hour limits are to be exceeded.
- All GTA responsibilities should be completed by the official last day of term.
- Hours not required in one term cannot be carried forward to a subsequent term.
- Where disputes arise, the GTA shall consult with the immediate supervisor and the graduate officer in an attempt to resolve the matter. Should this process fail to resolve the dispute, written correspondence on the matter should be addressed to the department chairperson by both faculty and GTA. If the above consultations should fail to resolve the dispute, a ruling will be sought from the Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.
A graduate student may be employed as a Research Assistant by a faculty member. This position is typically funded by a faculty member’s research grant, and the tasks are formally prescribed, assigned and completed on a fixed schedule.
The primary purpose of the Research Assistant is to perform required tasks for the faculty member's own research project. The work is determined by the researcher and may be unrelated, or loosely related, to the student's own academic pursuits.
Faculty are required to complete a Graduate Sudent Support form to help determine the nature of the relationship between the student, the faculty researcher and/or the project through this funding opportunity. This completed form must be submitted to the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies to make payment arrangements.
Contract Academic Staff Appointment
Depending on the qualifications and selection processes as outlined in the Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Association Collective Agreement, some graduate students may receive a Contract Academic Staff (CAS) appointment to teach a course. Consult your academic unit for more information about CAS appointments.
Parental Leave Supplement for Graduate Students
The supplement is available to students who take a temporary leave from graduate studies to become the primary care giver of a child after a birth or adoption. It is intended that the per-term supplement (calculated at 55% of annual student funding per term), together with any other Employment Insurance (EI) benefits or continuing support will provide a minimum funding of $500 to a maximum of $2,500 for the remaining term of their current work assignment(s).
It is expected that students take leave based on university term timetables so as to not interrupt courses and other responsibilities such as Research Assistantships (RAs). If a parental leave is required, students should inform their departments prior to signing TA or RA contracts to allow departments to accommodate the absence. Students must also inform their advisors and program graduate coordinator of their intended leave. Students are expected to continue graduate studies following the leave.
Graduate students can apply for the Parental Leave Supplement using the forms on the FGPS website. Contact Deborah Russell at firstname.lastname@example.org, graduate admissions and records officer, with any questions.
Students who become parents may take up to three terms of uninterrupted parental leave during the first year of birth or placement. This leave can be taken regardless of the application for or receiving of a parental leave supplement (see General Regulations – Regulation Status information in the Graduate Calendar for the Laurier policy). To receive a parental leave supplement during a parental leave period, the following registration eligibility guidelines must be met:
- Master's students: Registered as a full-time graduate student at Laurier for at least one academic year (three terms) but not more than two academic years (six terms) prior to the start of the leave.
- Doctoral students: Registered as a full-time graduate student at Laurier for at least one academic year (three terms) but not more than four academic years (12 terms) for doctoral students prior to the start of the leave.
Students remain eligible for the supplement only within their normal period of eligibility for financial support.
Only students in good academic standing with no outstanding fees will be eligible the supplement. Students are only eligible for the supplement if they are the primary caregiver for the child (e.g. if the other parent takes a leave from work or studies or is otherwise at home to care for the child, then the student is not eligible for the supplement). If both parents are Laurier students, they can share the parental leave supplement (e.g. one partner can take two terms and the other can take one term) but both parents cannot receive the supplement at the same time. Each partner must fill in a separate supplement application and leave must be taken within 12 months of the date of birth or custody. Graduate students can apply for this supplement for each incident of birth or adoption during their graduate studies, in accordance with the eligibility criteria outlined above.
Students are expected to provide as much notice as possible regarding their intention to take a parental leave, notifying both their supervisor and graduate officer. Students must complete the supplement application at least two months prior to the start of the term for which the parental leave is sought. The application must be accompanied by appropriate documentation confirming the expected date of birth or custody. The application form includes a declaration of the intention to continue full-time graduate studies following the parental leave. Students are expected to confirm their return giving at least four weeks’ notice in advance of the term in which they intend to return to continue with their graduate studies.
Students who are receiving scholarship or award funding are eligible for the supplement only after they have exhausted the birth and/or parental leave benefits available to scholarship or award winners through the awarding agencies. Students should refer to these agencies for more information on birth and/or parental leave for scholarship and award holders. Students who are or expect to be employed or receiving Employment Insurance (EI) including maternity, parental or sickness benefits during the parental leave must include these payments as continuing support in the Calculations for Supplement Amount (see the Parental Supplement Amount section).
Parental Supplement Amount
The parental leave supplement, together with any other continuing support is intended to maintain income at around the 55% average level received by funded graduate students during the three previous academic terms, minus tuition fees, to a maximum of $2,500 per term. Students who do not return to their studies after their leave (barring any medical complication or serious illness which, on a physician’s recommendation, prevents the return to studies) must repay supplement monies.
To calculate the supplement amount, the following information is required from the student’s last three terms prior to the leave:
- The average income per term from the university (I) (including internal and external scholarships, Graduate Teaching Assistantships, Studentship Awards, Research Assistantships).
- The average term amount of awards (A) (scholarship, and/or award support).
- The average tuition fees paid per term (T).
The supplement will be reduced by the amount of continuing support from employment, Employment Insurance (EI) including maternity, parental or sickness benefits, TAs, RAs, scholarships, and other bursaries and awards during the period that the parental supplement is being paid.
The payment of the supplement will commence within two months after the date of birth or adoption. Payments will be automatically deposited into the students’ bank accounts. Monies will be released only after the birth or custody of the child (which may differ from the commencement of the leave) and upon provision to Graduate Studies of confirmation of birth or custody.