What is ‘at risk’?
As a graduate researcher, you are expected to progress well throughout your candidature towards a successful timely submission of your thesis. However, we understand it is not always going to be easy.
If your advisory committee identifies that you may not be able to meet your project milestones and goals, they will intervene to try and get you moving forwards with your research.
At the intervention stage you are considered to be ‘at risk’ of making unsatisfactory progress. This period can sometimes be challenging, but early intervention can be the most effective way to get you back on track.
If you find yourself in this situation, make sure you access the help available to you.
When can ‘at risk’ be recommended?
Since ‘at risk’ is an intervention period used to assist you to get back on track, it can occur at any point prior to your maximum course duration date. It can occur more than once during your candidature.
Your advisory committee will aim to identify – with your assistance – why the progress milestones or expectations were not met and what support will be provided or can be accessed. ‘At risk’ will give you the opportunity to get back on track.
‘At risk’ can also be recommended if you fail to submit your progress form or fail to attend a progress meeting after sufficient attempts have been made by your advisory committee to convene the meeting. If you continue not to engage with requests regarding your progress, this may lead to termination of your enrolment.
How long can I be ‘at risk’?
The length of an 'at risk' period is determined by your advisory committee by considering the time required to complete the tasks necessary to make satisfactory progress. The duration will be no more than three months. If you are ‘at risk’ for failure to submit a progress review form or attend a review, your ‘at risk’ period will usually be 10 business days. When ‘at risk’ is combined with an extension to your probationary candidature, the period will end when you reach the maximum probationary candidature specified in policy for your course.
- Step 1
- You are identified as ‘at risk’ by your supervisors when you are not meeting progress expectations.
- Step 2
- Your advisory committee will convene a meeting with you to discuss the ‘at risk’ status, work out a progress plan and discuss support that will be in place during the period.
- Step 3
- You will be notified via your University student email account.
The email notification will outline why you are considered to be ‘at risk’, what you need to do in order to make satisfactory progress, and the length of your ‘at risk’ period.
- Step 4
- You work towards making satisfactory progress before the deadline. Your supervisors are expected to provide you with support during this time.
- Step 5
- Your supervisors will meet with you to review your progress at the end of the ‘at risk’ period and decide the outcome.
- Step 6
- An email notifying you of the outcome will be sent to your University student email account.
I've been identified as being 'at risk' of making unsatisfactory progress
This page is for graduate researchers who have received an email, or were advised during a review meeting, that they are ‘at risk’.
Please note: being registered as ‘at risk’ with Student Equity and Disability Services is not the same as being ‘at risk’ of making unsatisfactory progress.
How am I officially informed that I’m ‘at risk’?
After a meeting with your advisory committee to discuss why you are ‘at risk’ and to develop a progress plan, your faculty will send an email notification to your University student email account that includes:
- the reason why you have been identified as being ‘at risk’,
- a progress plan including realistic tasks and milestones that will allow you to complete your thesis in a timely way, the expected standard for these tasks,
- the length of your ‘at risk’ period, and;
- the support that will be provided or is available during the period.
Applying for candidature changes during the ‘at risk’ period
When you receive a notice that you are considered at risk of unsatisfactory progress, it means that your advisory committee believes you would benefit from intervention strategies so you can succeed in your course. It is common that a change to your enrolment may be considered alongside any intervention strategies. If you choose to make changes to your enrolment you should discuss how this affects your progress plan with your supervisors to ensure it will not hinder your ability to demonstrate you have made satisfactory progress.
Examples of changes to enrolment are:
- changing your study rate
- changing your project details
- applying for a leave of absence
- changing your department
To assist with a smooth process for approving your application, please provide all the documents required to support your application. The documentation requirements are the same as those listed for special consideration applications in coursework degrees.
You need to discuss your progress throughout the 'at risk' period with your advisory committee including any successes or problems you encounter.
Being identified as ‘at risk’ can be stressful but there are resources available to help you get through this period and bring your progress back on track. You are encouraged to make use of the various support services accessible via Service Finder. These are available at no cost to you .
You and your advisory committee may also want to consider whether changes to your candidature may help to get you back on track, for example:
- a transfer to a masters degree (for doctoral candidates), or
- change of study rate, or
- a brief period of leave of absence.
Please discuss any changes with your supervisor before you submit a request to determine feasibility and any adjustments to your progress plan. If you have any questions about the process for ‘at risk’ or changes to your candidature during the period, contact your local graduate research administrator.
At the end of an 'at risk' period
Normally a meeting with your advisory committee will be scheduled at the end of the ‘at risk’ period to discuss and assess whether you have met your progress requirements.
If you demonstrate satisfactory progress before or at the end of the ‘at risk’ period, your faculty will notify you by email that your progress is satisfactory, and the 'at risk' period has ended.
If you continue to not meet progress expectations and your committee has serious concerns regarding your ability to complete your thesis on time, you will be issued with a notice of unsatisfactory progress.
Further 'at risk'
If you have demonstrated some progress, passed Confirmation and have not reached the maximum course duration of your course; your committee may recommend a further ‘at risk’ period. At the progress review where the extension to the ‘at risk’ period is decided, your advisory committee will discuss any adjustments to the plan originally developed when you were first placed ‘at risk’.