Dear UConn Graduate Students,
I am reaching out to provide information on a question regarding fee reductions for graduate students. Specifically, we have been asked to allow the fee reduction for online only students to apply to graduate students whose only in-person course is a graduate research course. In most cases, this situation occurs when a student has finished formal coursework and is completing research for a thesis or dissertation.
After considerable deliberations, we have shared with Graduate Student Senate (GSS) and Graduate Student Union leadership that we cannot extend this waiver for graduate students with research as their only in-person course.
We considered multiple factors in weighing this request. First, we started with the original motivation behind the fee reduction for entirely online courses. In large part, that was designed as a measure to promote safety and de-densify campus by providing a financial motivation for students to take online courses. Doing so also allowed us to open more in-person seats for students who preferred that option.
Second, we recognize that thesis and dissertation research for many of you will not occur on campus, but this has also been the case before COVID-19. Thus, a fee reduction for graduate students enrolled only in graduate research courses would not lead to any further de-densifying of campus. We also have to be mindful that honoring this waiver request would cost around $500,000. At a time when we are already experiencing cuts across the University from the impact of COVID-19, additional costs such as these would have further damaging consequences.
We understand the request that has been made to provide a fee reduction for graduate students whose only in-person course is a graduate research course, but making a change to graduate student fee structures associated with graduate research was not the intention of this waiver and we need to stand by the original intent. As a result of our multiple conversations about these issues I am going to work with Dean Holsinger and graduate student leaders over this next semester to evaluate graduate student fees and we will be in touch over this period with any changes we can consider making for the future.
Relatedly and as part of our conversations with GSS, we did develop the Graduate Students Emergency Fund that was announced last Thursday. It is an effort to help those of you whose plans to complete your degrees were delayed by COVID-19. Detailed information about the program and requirements are available here: https://grad.uconn.edu/graduate-students/emergency-fund/.
I recognize that addresses only part of the issue here, and want you to know that I welcome continued conversation on graduate student fees more broadly. I appreciate the advocacy of your graduate student leaders and look forward to working with them, as well as hearing from you on your concerns.
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs