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School of Graduate Studies facing temporary budgetary shortfall

By Mandy Cook

Memorial’s School of Graduate Studies is putting a hold on some financial support programs for incoming graduate students in the fall of 2010.

The school is projecting a shortfall of $2 million in operating funds in the 2009-10 fiscal year.

According to Dr. Noreen Golfman, dean of Graduate Studies, the school has grown its fellowship commitments significantly in the last several years in the interest of meeting one of the key goals of Memorial’s Strategic Plan – to triple the number of graduate students.

The shortfall is a direct result of both providing enhanced fellowship support in order to be competitive in the Canadian and international markets, and the success of the school’s recruitment activities and entrance scholarship program.

Dr. Golfman said the school is working with individual academic units to determine the best way forward for the coming academic year. However, she said the recent announcement suspending some funding programs will likely inhibit the significant growth the graduate school is currently experiencing.

“Unless there are new monies for fellowship support, the number of applicants is bound to decline somewhat,” said Dr. Golfman. “Our application rate is 60 per cent higher than last year. A lot of students want to study here and live in this province, and many of those would depend on fellowship support to survive.”

In an attempt to balance its budget for the coming year, the School of Graduate Studies will suspend the entrance scholarships program for 2010-11. It is also reducing the graduate student funding it provides to academic units by 10 per cent.

As well, these measures will be accompanied in 2010-11 by the suspension of two School of Graduate Studies-supported programs: the Teaching Opportunities for Graduate Assistants (TOGA) program and the New Faculty Incentive Fund.

While students hoping to embark on master’s and doctoral programs at Memorial beginning in the fall will have reduced access to funding, graduate students who have already been formally offered funding will not be affected.

Dr. Golfman said she is confident that these interim financial measures being taken by the university, individual academic units and Graduate Studies will positively position the School of Graduate Studies for 2011 and beyond.