Transition of graduate awards from Payroll to SISC

on March 24, 2015
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After considerable review, the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (G+PS) has decided to proceed with a project to move graduate awards currently paid through the UBC Payroll system to the Student Information System (accessed by graduate students via the Student Service Centre).

Summary

  • Existing Payroll awards whose award end date is 31 August 2015 or earlier will remain on Payroll. There will be no changes to the payment method or schedule for these awards.
  • Existing Payroll awards whose award end date is after 31 August 2015 will be moved to SISC effective 1 May 2015. These awards will be assigned on SISC by mid-April 2015 and pay out a lump sum installment in early May for the May-August 2015 term. These awards will remain on SISC for the rest of their funding period.
  • All new awards (e.g., new Tri-Agency awards from the spring 2015 competition announcements) will be assigned on SISC. No new award appointments will be created on Payroll.

Information about which awards will transition from Payroll to SISC will be communicated directly to each student affected and to graduate programs in the coming weeks.

Survey Results

From 2-11 March 2015, G+PS conducted a survey of graduate students, graduate program staff and graduate program directors, seeking their perspective on the project described above. We received 367 responses, 346 (94%) of which were from graduate students.

Overall support for the transition from Payroll to SISC:

  • Supportive of transition (moderately or very supportive): 184 (50.1%)
  • Neutral: 83 (22.6%)
  • Not supportive of transition (moderately or very unsupportive): 82 (22.4%)
  • No opinion: 18 (4.9%)

Change from (a) semi-monthly payment schedule to (b) lump sum payments at the start of each term viewed as:

  • Positive: 185 (50.4%)
  • Negative: 169 (46.0%)
  • No response: 13 (3.6%)

Confidence in capacity of the SISC to provide robust support to students and graduate programs:

  • Confident (moderate or strong confidence): 136 (37.1%)
  • Neutral: 113 (30.8%)
  • Not confident (little or no confidence): 79 (21.5%)
  • No response / no opinion: 39 (10.6%)

The following three issues were identified as the primary concerns expressed in respondents’ comments:

  1. Replacing semi-monthly payment schedule with lump sum payments at the start of each term.
    • A number of respondents indicated their preference for the semi-monthly payment schedule used by Payroll; some respondents expressed stronger concerns that many graduate students are not good at budgeting and that larger, less frequent payments might cause some students to end up in financial difficulty because they will use up their funding too quickly.
    • Though G+PS felt that this concern was not sufficient to call off the whole project (particularly when more respondents viewed the change as positive rather than negative), G+PS will work with Enrolment Services and other partners to improve the resources available to graduate students with regard to budgeting and personal financial management. G+PS has investigated the possibility of replicating the semi-monthly payment schedule on SISC, but will not proceed in that direction at this time. The possibility will be reconsidered as part of the design process for the system that will replace SISC.
  2. Reliability of and end-of-life timeline for SISC
    • G+PS has reviewed these concerns with staff in Enrolment Services and UBC IT, and we are confident the SISC can accommodate the additional award payments. The payment delay experienced by students in January 2015 was a one-time error that will not be repeated.
    • Though UBC is working toward replacing the SISC with a new student system, it will be several years before awards functionality will be moved to the replacement system. In the meantime, UBC is committed to ensuring the SISC provides robust support to students, staff and faculty.
  3. Possible service disruption / confusion during transition
    • G+PS will work closely with the UBC Payroll team to transition students from Payroll to SISC for 1 May 2015. In the end, only ~525 students with existing awards will be moved from Payroll to SISC; the awards for another ~430 students are already scheduled to end by 31 August 2015 and will remain on Payroll until they are finished, with no action necessary.
    • As noted above, G+PS will have the awards for students being moved from one system to another assigned on SISC by mid-April 2015, providing sufficient time for students to review their records and for any errors to be identified before payments are made in early May 2015.
    • G+PS will also undertake a targeted campaign to have all students receiving large awards via SISC signed up for direct deposit before the beginning of May 2015.

For information, please visit UBC Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies’ Scholarships, Awards & Funding page.

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Transition of graduate awards from Payroll to SISC