Students in Difficulty and Leaves of Absence

Students in Distress

First and foremost, your role as a supervisor is to be an academic mentor. However, you may either directly or indirectly become aware that a student you are supervising is in distress. For example

  • The student may have reported significant problems to you or sought your advice
  • The student may show signs of distress such as a significant change in behavior or mood
  • The student’s behavior may be increasingly erratic, aggressive or excessively emotional
  • Staff, faculty members or other students have expressed concerns about the well-being of this student

In this situation, your role is to direct the student towards services that can provide help. The SASS has created a quick reference sheet for professors on how to deal with students in distress and it is highly recommended that you keep this document handy and available. If at any time you have concerns for a student but do not feel able to address it, do not hesitate to contact the Program Director for support.

Leaves of Absence

The graduate program is full-time and as such graduate students are expected to spend most of their time performing research related activities. As such, a full-time student must be geographically available (i.e. on campus) to meet registration conditions. Without forfeiting full-time status, a graduate student, while still under supervision, may be absent from the 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 session, written evidence shall be available in the student's file to the effect that the absence has the approval of the Director of Graduate Studies.

If for extenuating circumstances (eg. medical illness), a student cannot be present to complete research work, they must submit a request for a leave of absence in order to remain in the program. The request must clearly spell out the reasons for the intended interruption of studies and must be approved by the student's research director and the Director of Graduate Studies and submitted before the closing date for registration of a given session.

NOTE: A leave of absence is counted as part of the time allowed for completion of degree requirements. When the approved leave of absence has expired, the student is expected to reregister. A leave of absence will, as a general rule, be granted for a maximum of three sessions for the duration of the program. Leave will be granted only when it is clear that the time remaining after the leave will suffice for completion of the program. Inactive students may not make any demands upon the resources of the University. They may not use computer or library facilities, attend courses, or expect advice from their research director.

Parental leave

A leave of up to one year is available on request for each birth or adoption occurring during the program. Students on such leave continue to have access to computer and library facilities, and those who request it will be granted an extension of up to one year of their completion time for each birth or adoption. This leave is available to either parent. However, the total leave or extension time available is one year, both parents combined. Proof of the birth or adoption will be required. Where an external agency is involved, as in the case of visa students or those holding external scholarships or loans, such agencies should be consulted prior to applying for leave.

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