1. What is Continuous Enrollment?

The Rackham Graduate School continuous enrollment policy for all Ph.D. students at the University of Michigan went into effect in Fall Term 2010. As this is an academic policy and not an employment policy, the University considers this issue a “permissive subject of bargaining”, in effect preventing GEO from bargaining over this issue in contract negotiations unless the University were to “permit it”, as it is not a “mandatory subject of bargaining”, such as wages or benefits. If you are interested in persuading the University to bargain over the continuous enrollment policy, please contact GEO’s Organizing Chair.

According to the Rackham website, “Once admitted to a Ph.D. program, students will register every fall and winter term until their degree is awarded, unless they are taking an official leave of absence. Requirements for registration in the summer will not change. Students will register in spring or summer terms only when they elect courses, take preliminary examinations, or defend their dissertations.”

Regarding funding, “Each school and college has developed a plan to provide tuition support for all Ph.D. students who are making satisfactory academic progress but would not have registered under current policies and practices. The plans do not replace or alter existing commitments to students from departments, graduate programs, schools or colleges for financial support that includes tuition, stipend, and benefits. The school and college plans for tuition fellowships provide an additional layer of support that is designed to protect current students from new financial burdens as a result of the policy.”

Regarding detached study and leaves of absence, “With the Continuous Enrollment Policy students will be registered regardless of their location. Registration status confirms students’ eligibility for the full array of University services and resources, many of which remain fully available to students outside of the Ann Arbor area due to advances in technology and travel convenience. Sometimes life events or medical reasons interrupt a student’s progress for a period of time. The policy provides flexibility for students who need to take an official leave of absence and makes a clear statement about expectations upon return.”

For more information on Rackham’s continuous enrollment process, please see their website.

2. Are there any benefits from Continuous Enrollment?

Here are some of the benefits, according to Rackham:

The Rackham registration policy calls for Ph.D. students to register in all fall and winter terms from matriculation to degree completion, unless on an approved Leave of Absence or Extramural Study Status. Ph.D. students have year-round eligibility for University services even during summers when they may not be registered.

University services that remain available to Ph.D. students during spring/summer include University Library, Career Center, E-mail, Printing, International Center, University Housing, Counseling and Psychological Services, Services for Students with Disabilities, Spectrum Center and Parking Services.  Starting Spring 2011, Rackham Ph.D. students, who were registered in the Winter 2011 semester, will have access to University Health Service, Recreational Sports, and Student Legal Services at no additional charge.

For questions regarding access to University support services, please e-mail Darlene Ray-Johnson at rayj@umich.edu.”

3. I’m having a problem with fulfilling the continuous enrollment requirements (e.g. I need to take a leave of absence, I’ve lost funding, etc.). What should I do? Can GEO help me?

Since continuous enrollment is an academic policy issue, not an employment issue, the UM/GEO Agreement’s Grievance Procedure (Article IX) does not apply. While GEO can’t advocate for you in a continuous enrollment dispute as in a grievance, GEO can give you advice on how best to proceed in case of such a dispute. Feel free to contact our Grievance Chair.

Also check out the following resources: