Revised Administrative Procedures for the Engagement of Post-doctoral Fellows

PDAD&C #27 (2007-08)



From: Edith Hillan, Vice-Provost Academic
Susan Pfeiffer, Vice-Provost Graduate Education
Date: November 8, 2007
Re: Revised Administrative Procedures for the Engagement of Post-doctoral Fellows

During 2006, a Working Group was convened to review the status of post-doctoral fellows at the University of Toronto. The current Policy and Administrative Procedures for Engagement of Post-doctoral Fellows date from 2002. The purpose of the policy was to clearly define the role of post-doctoral fellows and to ensure that they were treated in a fair and consistent manner across the institution. At the time the policies were approved, the University elected not to implement mandatory registration. Our experience to date with the policy and administrative procedures suggests that we are not achieving its full objectives.

The Working Group recommended that there was no need to change the current policy, however, some changes to the current administrative procedures are required.

1. Maximum Term of Engagement

Trainee positions should be time-limited, therefore it is proposed that the maximum initial term of engagement should continue to be three years. In special circumstances, a further extension, normally of up to two years and no more than three, is permitted with the approval of the Dean in multi-department faculties and the Provost in single department divisions. After any extension, if these individuals continue with the University they must be reclassified in the appropriate appointment category such as Research Assistant or Research Associate. The proposed time-frame is in line with the Policy requirement that normally post-doctoral fellows are within five years from the award of a PhD or equivalent degree.

2. Mandatory Registration

The University has a responsibility to be able to demonstrate that it is monitors the length of engagement of post-doctoral fellows in keeping with the principle that trainee positions should be time-limited. Therefore the Working Group recommends that there should be mandatory registration of postdoctoral fellows through the SGS Post-doctoral Office. The SGS Post-doctoral Office has developed a web-based application to facilitate the registration of post-doctoral fellows. The unit administrator with responsibility for post-doctoral fellows will enter information directly into the system and this will generate a letter of engagement. Upon confirmation of engagement, the web-based application will generate a unique identifier – UTID – and a template letter to be given to the post-doctoral fellow to secure access to university services, including the library and utoronto email. Mandatory registration will ensure that information on, and access to, services such as Hart House, the Athletic Centre etc, is provided to post-doctoral fellows in a consistent manner.

3. Training Requirements

The University has a responsibility to ensure that post-doctoral fellows receive appropriate professional development during the period of engagement. Therefore, the current administrative procedures for post-doctoral fellows are revised to ensure that a training plan is developed to advance each post-doctoral fellow’s career. Details of the training plan should be included in the letter of engagement. Professional development opportunities should be available through the training site and the SGS Post-doctoral Office to prepare the post-doctoral fellow for their future career.

4. Post-doctoral Health/Dental Benefits

A major concern of post-doctoral fellows is access to health care benefits during the post-doctoral fellowship. The Working Group recognised that there are difficulties in providing health benefits to non-employees, however, it recommended that Human Resources develop a basic health/dental benefit plan for post-doctoral fellows.

5. Minimum Trainee Stipend Rate

The current minimum trainee stipend of $25,000 for post-doctoral fellows was established in 2002. The Working Group recommended that this should be reviewed. It is proposed that the minimum trainee stipend be increased to $27,500, plus the cost of a basic health/dental benefit plan.

Next Steps

The Revised Administrative Procedures for the Engagement of Post-doctoral Fellows will take effect in January 2008. The revised procedures should be used for all post-doctoral fellows starting after January 1, 2008. All current post-doctoral fellows should be issued with revised engagement letters which meet these terms no later than June 30, 2008. We therefore ask you to ensure that all faculty who engage post-doctoral fellows are aware of the new procedures.

Copies of this memorandum, the Policies for Post-doctoral Fellows and the Revised Administrative Procedures for Engagement of Post-doctoral Fellows will be available on the Vice-President and Provost's website at