The Faculty of Arts & Science has announced a major funding boost for graduate students.

The approved policy changes will increase the base funding by approximately $2,000 over the current amount for eligible doctoral-stream students. This includes both domestic and international students from all three campuses. The increased funds will be provided in the form of fellowship income over the next three years, with no mandatory TA work required. 

Following months of consultations with graduate student representatives, the boost will affect 64 per cent of the 3,540 doctoral-stream students in the Faculty of Arts and Science. The initial overall increase of $1,500 will be in effect as of September 2016, with annual increases thereafter.

The changes to base funding and program-level fellowships represent an estimated 27 per cent increase to the Arts & Science University of Toronto Fellowships allocation over the next three years; this includes $3.35 million in 2016–2017 and an estimated $6.7 million over current levels by the third year.

In a letter addressed to graduate students, Joshua Barker, Vice-Dean of Graduate Education & Program Reviews, explained that the university was able to accommodate increased graduate student funding as a result of an improvement to the university’s financial position and a balanced budget as of last year. 

Baker also outlined a “three-pronged approach” that includes the funding boost, program-level fellowship resources for each of the graduate departments, and the Milestones and Pathways programs — a series of new skill-building programs commencing in the fall. 

The Milestones program focuses on academic assistance, with a focus on dissertation writing and publishing research articles. The Pathways program will aim to equip graduate students with the necessary skills needed to succeed in both the classroom and the workplace. 

“We are making these improvements because we understand that you need more funding and that having to devote your time to earning income takes away from focusing on your own core research,” read a portion of Baker’s letter. “We also understand that we need to do everything we can to support you as you prepare for your future careers.”

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the funding increase was connected to a legal dispute between the university and CUPE 3902.