Graduate students in the School of Arts and Sciences who are working toward their Ph.D. will not have to pay to audit foreign language courses in the College of General Studies anymore. Last week, in response to demands made by the Graduate Student Associations Council, SAS announced two major changes in foreign language instruction for Ph.D. candidates. According to a memo issued by the Associate Dean for Graduate Studies Donald Fitts, the first change concerns reading courses in French and German that students had formerly audited in CGS. Now, these courses -- which will be offered during the first summer session this year -- will be administered by the Graduate Division and will only be open to registered Ph.D. students. The Graduate Division will pay for the courses and no tuition will be charged to the students. The second change applies to students who have fellowships or teaching assistantships and are required to study more than one foreign language for their degree. In the past, these students audited foreign language courses and had to pay the tuition for the courses themselves. Under the new policy, students are still expected to have studied one foreign language as an undergraduate. But tuition for additional foreign language courses will be covered by fellowships and teaching assistantships for the length of the award. Fitts estimated that over half of the Ph.D. candidates in SAS are supported by some type of fellowship or are teaching assistants. Students will register for these courses as usual and will receive grades on their transcripts. However, credit for the courses will not count toward the twenty course-unit requirement for the Ph.D. According to Stephen Nichols, associate dean for humanities, GSAC had requested that students not be burdened with the extra cost of language courses for at least five years. Some graduate students voiced concern that this sudden concession is a sign that stipends for teaching assistants will not be increased this year. But Nichols said the move has absolutely no connection with stipends. "We have yet to address that issue," Nichols said. GSAC President Michael Polgar said he is glad SAS made the ruling. "This is certainly evidence that the graduate division is trying to provide a service for graduate students," Polgar said. "It would be helpful, though, to expand the reading courses to Spanish and other languages that students would need." Anthropology doctoral candidate Julie Pearce said she is pleased students will receive grades for the courses but is surprised the courses won't count toward the degree. "We're paying so much for courses anyway," said Pearce. "Because they don't count, coursework could take five years rather than three years." But Nichols said allowing foreign language courses to count toward the Ph.D. would be impractical. "I can't see that that would make any sense," said Nichols. "People traditionally are supposed to learn them before coming to graduate school. Students need to take courses in their disciplines."Comments powered by Disqus
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