Tuesday, April 23, 2024

New assistantship practices are established for supporting UTSA doctoral students

New assistantship practices are established for supporting UTSA doctoral students

JULY 15, 2022 — The University of Texas at San Antonio has established new policies for awarding graduate assistantships and funding packages to fully funded full-time doctoral students, effective fall 2022.

The new policies follow recommendations and are a direct outcome of the Graduate Student Success Task Force, which was convened in 2019 to make recommendations to advance graduate education and to enhance the support of graduate students. The task force was composed of over 100 faculty, students and staff from across the academic colleges and campus.

“Offering competitive, complete funding packages that support the costs of living will help us recruit highly-qualified doctoral candidates, and increase retention and success of our existing students by allowing them to focus and devote their efforts more fully in their doctoral program,” said Ambika Mathur, vice provost for graduate studies and dean of The UTSA Graduate School. “These efforts to support graduate students in turn support faculty excellence, as our doctoral students provide valuable intellectual capital for faculty research and teaching activities.”

“These new guidelines advance our broader efforts to deepen UTSA’s abilities to recruit, retain and support the best and brightest graduate students.”

The task force noted that, while there are a number of issues that impact graduate enrollment and degree completion, the primary challenge is that of funding packages when compared to the university’s peer and aspirant institutions. The new process fulfills three key task force recommendations: 

  • Establish uniform definitions of graduate assistantship categories with defined rights and responsibilities.

  • Establish uniform appointment processes for graduate assistants.

  • Provide competitive funding packages to doctoral students appointed as graduate assistants, including stipend, tuition and health care subsidy.

The process to implement these recommendations evolved through close partnerships and collaboration of the Graduate School with members of the task force, Institutional Research, Financial Aid, Faculty Personnel Services, Business Affairs, and in particular academic college deans and associate deans for graduate studies, added Mathur.

“This is a key endeavor that was made possible through the combined effort of so many UTSA colleagues, all of whom recognized the importance of this initiative in supporting our doctoral students,” said David Silva, dean of the College of Sciences. “Furthermore, we expect these changes will make UTSA all the more attractive to prospective students as we look to grow our doctoral enrollment here in our college and across the university.”

Beginning Fall 2022, to enable students to engage fully in their degree program through predictable support for living expenses, all full-time fully funded doctoral students (enrolled for 9 semester credit hours in fall and spring semesters and 3 credit hours in summer) are expected to receive a Full Graduate Assistantship (0.475 FTE) with an expected effort of 19 hours per week.

For FY23 fiscal year, the university minimum for an assistantship stipend for full-time fully funded doctoral students is $18,000 for a 12-month appointment; each college has established standardized graduate assistantship stipend levels for each degree program, benchmarked with peers in their discipline.

In addition, as recommended by the Task Force, all full-time fully funded doctoral students will also receive full tuition and fees and will be automatically enrolled in the UT System’s UT-SHIP health insurance plan for graduate students with their annual premium paid at the Single Subscriber rate.

“Graduate education has always been key to UTSA’s mission and strategic vision, and doctoral students play a critical role in faculty scholarship and the university’s dual mission of excellence in teaching and research,” said UTSA Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Kimberly Andrews Espy. “Now—with UTSA’s designation as a Carnegie R1 institution and eligibility for the National Research University Fund—it is particularly critical that we be competitive with peer institutions in recruiting, retaining, and graduating the highest quality graduate students.”

“These new guidelines advance our broader efforts to deepen UTSA’s abilities to recruit, retain and support the best and brightest graduate students to complete their degrees and pursue meaningful careers,” Espy added.

Learn more about graduate assistantships.

Representatives of the Graduate School, Strategic Enrollment, Institutional Research, Faculty Personnel Services and Business Affairs now are working with the colleges to appoint continuing and newly admitted doctoral students who have been offered support through a 19-hour graduate assistantship for the 2022-2023 academic year.

Pending completion of the state audit in support of the university’s NRUF eligibility, colleges will utilize allocated institutional NRUF funding investments in support of this initiative to strengthen doctoral education.

Rebecca Luther

UTSA Today is produced by University Strategic Communications,
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of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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