A University of Manitoba student says it is not unusual for the university to grants degrees to students who have not completed all academic requirements for compassionate reasons.
Graduate Students Association (GSA) vice president academic Peter Nawrot told the Winnipeg Free Press that in one case, an international student was allowed to retake a courses they had twice failed after the Canadian Embassy intervened and informed the university that the student’s life was in danger if they were forced to return home after dropping out. “In the years I’ve sat on senate, the university has allowed numerous students to graduate without fulfilling their course requirements,” Nawrot said.
His comments come amidst of an ongoing court battle between math professor Gabor Lukacs and the U of M over the awarding of a PhD to a student who had not completed a comprehensive exam required to graduate.
During his two years on the Senate Appeals Committee, Nawrot said that the senate was responsible for approving any exemptions to degree requirements. He stated that this involved reviewing a student’s transcript and medical records, interviewing the student and possibly an advocate or lawyer. Recommendations from the dean or other faculty involved with the appeal would also be heard.
However, University of Manitoba Faculty Association (UMFA) president Cameron Morrill explained that while waiving undergraduate requirements isn’t uncommon, exempting a student from a comprehensive doctoral exam is much more serious: “The comprehensive course measures your overall grasp of the field. It’s a completely essential thing. I’ve certainly never heard of one like this,” said Morrill, referring to the decision to award a student a PhD without completing a comprehensive exam, normally a requirement necessary to graduate which Lukacs is contesting.
UMFA recently filed a grievance with the university over the university’s decision to suspend Lukacs, stating that Lukacs was treated “unreasonably, unfairly and in a manner contrary to the Collective Agreement” by the university.