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Course Release Policy and Practice

Updated November 2021

Following review by the Provost and the Academic Planning Group, the University has modified the process for the funding and implementation of course releases for RFA members granted in respect of greater than expected commitments to non-teaching activities.

The new Mode II teaching standards are premised on the principle that, in addition to teaching, a significant amount of a faculty member’s annual work time is available for a combination of SRC and service activities. While it is acknowledged that the actual distribution of the three core activities of academics varies considerably among individuals and among programs, teaching release should be provided only where the individual member’s overall activities in teaching, SRC, and service justify release in order to support the proposed additional levels of SRC or service for which funding is being provided.

  1. It is expected that all teaching release, both for Mode I and Mode II faculty members, will be explicitly funded, and valued/costed in a way that reflects the costs of replacement teaching.
  2. Effective for the 2021-2022 academic year:
    1. the value of a course release for a Mode I faculty member shall be $5,000 plus CUPE benefits, currently set at 15.71%, for a total of $5,785.50;
    2. the value of a course release for a Mode II faculty member shall be $10,000 plus CUPE benefits, currently set at 15.71%, for a total of $11,571.00.
  3. Where actual course release is not possible or appropriate, consideration may be given to providing teaching or SRC support as per the attached Policy which provides that funding for teaching release may be (or may have to be) converted to SRC and teaching support.
  4. Course releases form part of faculty loading and therefore require decanal approval.
  5. The Collective Agreement requires that a faculty member teach a minimum of one course in each of the two teaching terms and course releases cannot be used to eliminate all teaching without written approval from the Dean and the Vice Provost, Faculty Affairs.
  6. The funding of course release by individual faculty members is not permitted under any circumstances.
  7. Where funding for course release is provided in part or in full by an agency external to the University, the terms and conditions of the funding agreement will take precedence provided advance approval for the arrangements has been obtained from the Dean.

Each Faculty may develop a form for the consistent administration of this Policy.

The Office of the Vice-Provost, Faculty Affairs is responsible for the administration and interpretation of this policy and will address any unusual circumstances which may arise.

Attachment: Policy Statement – Conversion of Release Time to TA/RA support

There exists a variety of circumstances in which faculty members may be funded for partial release from their normal teaching obligations. Release time funding is normally calculated as a proportion of a CUPE FTE.

In some circumstances, faculty members and their departments/schools may be unable to effect an actual teaching release based on the amount of funding available or the teaching needs of their program, and in other circumstances the faculty member may wish to employ the release funding in a way more supportive of their own activities.

Depending on the amount of release time authorized and on the individual circumstances of the faculty member, such notional release time may be converted to a monetary value which may be used to hire SRC (Research Assistant/Teaching Assistant) support for the faculty member.

If the faculty member wishes to convert his/her release time to SRC support, such request shall be submitted in writing to the chair/director for approval. In approving such a request, the chair/director shall confirm the monetary value which is available for SRC support.

The terms and conditions of employment in respect of Teaching/Graduate Assistants are outlined in the collective agreement between the University and CUPE, Local 3904, Unit 3.

In order to comply with employment legislation, prevailing collective agreements and the Income Tax Act the following should be noted:

(a) The monetary value must be sufficient to cover the Research Assistant’s salary and benefits (statutory and negotiated) expenses for the period of employment.

(b) The monetary value may not be used for any other purposes other than the employment of research assistant support

(c) Ryerson University shall be the employer of the Research Assistant

Roles and Responsibilities

Faculty Member (Supervising Faculty Role)
  • Determines job responsibilities and qualifications and prepares appropriate job descriptions
  • Develops selection criteria and scoring system
  • Develops interview questions and the evaluation process
  • Conducts interviews and reference checks
  • Makes the hiring decision and informs the Director/Chair of the department
  • Sets appropriate work standards and expectations for the Research Assistant
  • Supervises and monitors the work performance
  • Provides feedback on performance
  • Sets hours of work
  • Ensures that the Research Assistant has the appropriate tools/materials to perform the work described including work space
  • Responds to complaints raised by the Research Assistant
  • Ensures that the Research Assistant is properly trained, including mandatory training in respect of the Occupational Health and Safety Act
  • Validates attendance reports and submits to Department/School for processing
  • Performs other supervisory functions as may be required in respect of the Research Assistant

School/Department

  • Sets up appropriate accounting/financial processes in respect of release time as per university policy and procedures
  • Completes the appropriate university required hiring requisition forms as per appropriate policies, procedures and/or collective agreements
  • Confirm in writing job responsibilities, hours of work, deliverables to be achieved, start/end date of employment with the Research Assistant
  • Receives attendance reports as approved by the faculty member and submits to human resources for payroll purposes

If the school/department has established protocols in respect of the employment of research assistants/teaching assistants, the chair/director may offer such assistance to the faculty member to assist the faculty member in discharging his/her respective duties/responsibilities as a supervising faculty.

Research Assistant

Research Assistant refers to a student hired to assist the faculty member by carrying out tasks associated with the faculty member’s research and/or scholarly activities. Research Assistants may perform a variety of assigned tasks which include, but are not limited to:

  • Data acquisition in the laboratory for scientific projects
  • Data collection in the community for social science projects
  • Literature searches
  • Data compilation, processing, entry and analysis
  • Experimental system design, fabrication and maintenance

Research Assistants are always employees of the University. In respect of their employment relationship, Research Assistants are represented by a collective agreement, namely by OPSEU, Local 596 during the fall and winter semesters. Article 14 of the OPSEU collective agreement sets out the terms and conditions of their employment relationship including hours of work, overtime, wages and rates of pay, benefits etc.

Teaching Assistants

Teaching Assistant refers to a student hired to assist the faculty member by carrying out tasks associated with the faculty member’s teaching activities. Teaching Assistants may perform a variety of assigned tasks which include, but are not limited to:

  • preparation, attending lectures, serving as tutors, supervising labs/demonstration, consulting/assisting students, grading/marking/proctoring/monitoring the physical environment and equipment in assigned labs.

Teaching Assistants are always employees of the University. In respect of their employment relationship, Teaching Assistants are represented by a collective agreement, namely by CUPE, Local 3904, Unit 3. This collective agreement sets out the terms and conditions of their employment relationship including hours of work, wages and rates of pay, benefits etc.

Conflict of Interest/Employment of Relatives

Qualified persons may be hired whether or not they have relatives employed at Ryerson University, except where a situation has the potential to result in a conflict of interest/influence.

Please refer to the University’s:

Conflict of Interest Policy; and

Employment of Relatives Policy

Reference: University Administrative Policies

In addition to the above, the following guidelines and/or policies should be noted:

Section 5 - Employment laws and policies

The Human Rights Code, external link

Collective Agreements

Employment Equity

The Employment Standards Act, external link

Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy

Occupational Health and Safety, external link

Reference: Human Resources

Human Resources
December 2007