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University statement on NLRB ruling on graduate students

Following is a statement from Alan K. Cubbage, Vice President for University Relations, regarding the NLRB decision on graduate students.

The National Labor Relations Board ruled today that graduate students at private universities are statutory employees within the meaning of the National Labor Relations Act. Northwestern University has always regarded its Ph.D.-seeking graduate students as students, first and foremost, and the classification of these students as employees would significantly change the relationship between these students, their faculty mentors and the University.

Northwestern believes that unionization and collective bargaining are not the appropriate methods to address concerns raised by graduate student assistants. The University has been a leader in providing support for graduate students. In May 2015, Northwestern announced that it was investing more than $6 million in additional funds to increase graduate stipends to $29,000 a year for the 2015-16 year, a 26 percent increase. The stipends were increased again this year to $29,880. In addition, Northwestern provides guaranteed funding for five years and a high availability of sixth-year support for Ph.D. students in the Graduate School, as well as excellent health care coverage.

This financial support, coupled with outstanding academic opportunities and mentoring, symbolizes Northwestern’s significant commitment to providing outstanding graduate education. In addition, the University believes strongly that teaching experience is an important part of the academic training for Ph.D. students and provide that as well. Teaching experience, which is extremely valuable in the academic job market, enhances learning for those students while improving communication and other skills. 

As a result of its significant emphasis on graduate education, the University attracts some of the best graduate students in the world and prepares them to be scholars and thought leaders of the future.

Learn more

Visit the University's NLRB Ruling on Graduate Students website for information and resources related to the ruling and unionization.