New scholarships for international study abroad

Government awards will help students go on exchange

Students hoping to go on international exchanges will now have access to new resources to help them do so. The Ontario government introduced International Education Opportunity scholarships on Feb. 23 as part of its Reaching Higher initiative. The scholarships are worth $2,500 each, and different universities have been allocated different numbers of scholarships.

Teresa Alm, associate registrar for university awards, said Queen’s has been allocated 10 awards for 2006-07 and 28 scholarships for 2007-08. In order to be eligible for the scholarship, students must be going on an international exchange and in financial need. Special consideration will be given to aboriginal and francophone students and students studying in government priority programs.

“[The government] has identified the priority program to be an academic program with a focus on biotechnology,” Alm said. “It must also be awarded to students with the greatest record of academic achievement.” In accordance with government regulations, the 10 scholarships Queen’s has been allotted for the 2006-2007 school year must be awarded to students by March 31, 2007, Alm said. As part of the eligibility requirements, students must have gone on an exchange between September 2006
and April 2007 in order to receive this year’s scholarships.

“We have to do this within a month. ... It’ll be very soon so it’s a high priority,” Alm said. “So for this year, we’re dealing with a program almost retroactively. “For 2007-2008 the funding will work a little bit differently for them because they haven’t gone on exchange yet.”

Tanya Blazina, spokesperson for the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, said the government announcement isn’t last-minute. “The Ministry did have communications with each individual institution way back in the summer, so that’s point one,” she said. “Point two is that the fiscal year that the government works on doesn’t necessarily match with the academic year of the institutions; you have to appreciate the different calendars.” However, Alm said that announcement didn’t have any details on which the University could act. “It was just announced, and sometimes when the government announces programs there’s the details that have to be worked out, and that’s what the situation was.”

The Student Awards office has not yet come out with an application form for students, but Alm said they will soon after they have dealt with the 2006-07 exchange students.

“I think for the government to invest in students to have a study abroad opportunity, and to recognize that there are expenses related to such, is an excellent strategy,” Alm said.

Blazina said the reasoning behind the emphasis on biotechnology is a desire for the exchanges to benefit Ontario’s economy. She said the number of awards a school receives is based on their number of full-time students.

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