Budget gives grants to graduate students

Federal government unveils new awards, scholarships for doctoral students

Dean of Graduate Studies and Research Janice Deakin says the new scholarship will attract international grad students.
Dean of Graduate Studies and Research Janice Deakin says the new scholarship will attract international grad students.

Graduate students at Canadian universities will have a financial leg up thanks to a new graduate scholarship announced in Tuesday’s federal budget.

The award, named after former Governor-General Georges Vanier and part of the Canada Graduate Scholarships Program, will grant 500 Canadian or international doctoral students $50,000 yearly for up to three years.

The program’s funded with a $25-million investment over two years.

The budget also promises $6,000 annually for 250 Canada Graduate Scholarship recipients who want to study internationally and an $80-million increase in the government’s three granting councils—the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

The Ministry of Finance wouldn’t comment on the new budget.

Dean of Queen’s School of Graduate Studies and Research Janice Deakin said she’s pleased with the budget, which will help Queen’s attract “the best and the brightest” graduate students.

She said more students are looking to graduate education.

“I think there’s … an awareness issue, that there are huge advantages for students to carry on in postgraduate studies,” she said.

“Our world has evolved such that the skill level required to operate in the global society that we live in really does require a higher proportion of the population having advanced degrees.”

She said the initiative will also help the University attract international students.

“They have been explicit that international students and domestic students will be able to apply for this new award,” she said.

Previously, graduate students had to be Canadian to apply for a Tri-Council award from one of the three granting councils covered. Both Canadian and international graduate students will be eligible for the new $50,000 scholarship.

Deakin said just under 14 per cent of students in the graduate population at Queen’s this year are international students.

“That number results from the fact that the Ontario’s ‘Reaching Higher’ program is a funding program only for domestic students,” she said.

The program, a $6.2-billion plan announced in 2005, provides space for 14,000 additional domestic graduate students in Canadian universities by 2009-10.

Deakin said the initiative was the provincial government’s first targeted emphasis to increase enrollment in graduate programs. The program challenged all institutions to increase graduate enrollment by 30 per cent.

Last year, she said, Ontario universities approved more than 100 new graduate degree programs. Queen’s is reviewing a new cultural studies program and a master’s degree in public health. There’s also a master’s of global development studies and a PhD in law on the way.

Next fall students will see new PhD and master’s degrees in Nursing.

Deakin said growth in the graduate studies area doesn’t come at the expense of undergraduate education. It creates spaces so undergraduate students have increased opportunities to attend grad school, she said.

“The government … recognized the double cohort was moving through and that students needed more opportunities,” she said.

Increased graduate opportunities also give undergraduates more points of contact with graduate students, Deakin said.

“It creates an intellectual environment that all members of the community benefit from.” English department teaching fellow and PhD candidate Craig Smith said compared to other federal budget decisions, the money the government’s putting toward grad studies is generous.

“A lot of grad students stand to benefit,” he said.

But Smith said he would rather see changes to graduate studies expenses made at the university level.

“In English after first year we stop taking courses,” he said, adding that the tuition fees are “ridiculous.”

He said he doesn’t know much about the new budget, but he thinks the scholarship should be granted to students who need financial assistance.

“There should be some sort of need basis … rather than some sort of fund for grad students as a whole.”

Smith said the best part about the new budget is the inclusion of international students.

“I think in that respect it is a good thing.”

Graduate studies by the numbers

66—Master’s programs at Queen’s

1,531—Full-time Master’s students

34—Doctoral programs at Queen’s

1,035—Full-time doctoral students

2,566—Total full-time graduate students 2007-08

2,408—Total full-time graduate students 2006-07

2,272—Total full-time graduate students 2005-06

73—Tri-council award winners at Queen’s in 2006-07

83—Tri-council award winners at Queen’s in 2007-08

188—$5,000 International Tuition Awards awarded to international students in 2007-08

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