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Here is another open letter

April 6, 2009

The business of scholarships: An open letter to parliamentarians

The Federal Budget presented on January 27, 2009 contains a paragraph (page 106-7) laying out temporary increases in Graduate Scholarship Funding. The increases are welcome. However, the last sentence says that SSHRC scholarships “will be focused on business-related degrees.”

This provision must be eliminated. It makes no sense to earmark scholarships for one discipline, rather than another. We need to allow students in all disciplines to further their learning opportunities, and excluding the majority from consideration for scholarships, limits our choices as a society that relies on new knowledge to prepare a better future.

Granting councils rely on peer review, and accord scholarships on the basis of merit, not on the basis of field of study. The main estimates are examined on a departmental basis by the appropriate standing committee, as set out in Article 81.(4) of the Standing Orders of the House of Commons.

When SSHRC spending comes forward to be discussed, we urge parliamentarians to remove the condition that scholarships be focused on business-related degrees. Should this earmark provision not be withdrawn, the 22 Council members of the SSHRC should ignore the earmark, or resign in protest. The SSHRC president should undertake a public campaign to explain why earmarking is not an acceptable practice in graduate student funding.

We urge all professional associations to write the leaders of the opposition parties urging them to maintain the independence of funding for graduate students in all disciplines by having the House of Commons pronounce itself against earmarking scholarship money by discipline.

Setting aside for a time the controversial — did business-related programs, such as financial economics and business administration produce the people who put us in the economic mess we are now in — all University faculty, graduate students and administrators should make it clear to members of parliament that the directing of funds entrusted to granting councils is not the role of the government of the day.

Yours truly,

Frances Abele, Carleton University,
Greg Albo, York University,
Jessica Alina-Pisano, University of Ottawa,
Caroline Andrew, University of Ottawa,
Feyzi Baban, Trent University,
Manfred Bienefeld, Carleton University,
Neil Bradford, Huron University College,
Andrew Biro, Acadia University,
Paul Leduc Browne, Universite du Quebec en Outaouais,
Doris Buss, Carleton University,
Duncan Cameron, Simon Fraser University,
Bill Carroll, University of Victoria,
John Paul C. Catungal, University of Toronto,
Ken Collier, Athabasca University,
Amrita Daniere, University of Toronto,
Serge Denis, University of Ottawa,
Matthew Farish, University of Toronto,
Christina Gabriel, Carleton University,
Emily Gilbert, University of Toronto,
Kanishka Goonewardena, University of Toronto,
Sneja Gunew, University of British Columbia,
Matt James, University of Victoria,
Dimitrios Karmis, University of Ottawa,
Roger Keil, York University,
Fuyuki Kurasawa, York University,
Charmain Levy, Universite du Quebec en Outaouais,
Fiona Mackenzie, Carleton University,
Stephen McBride, Simon Fraser University,
Rianne Mahon, Carleton University,
Dominique Masson, University of Ottawa,
Margie Mendell, Concordia University,
Lisa Mills, Carleton University,
Amina Mire, Carleton University,
Douglas Moggach, University of Ottawa,
Joshua Mostow, University of British Columbia,
Carlos Novas, Carleton University,
Leo Panitch, York University,
Martin Papillon, University of Ottawa,
Kate Parizeau, University of Toronto,
William Ramp, University of Lethbridge,
Katharine N. Rankin, University of Toronto,
Francois Rocher, University of Ottawa,
Cristina Rojas, Carleton University,
Stephanie Ross, York University,
Blair Rutherford, Carleton University,
John S. Saul, York University,
Mario Seccareccia, University of Ottawa,
Byron Sheldrick, University of Guelph,
John Shields, Ryerson University,
Amy Siciliano, University of Toronto,
Janet Siltanen, Carleton University,
Louis Simard, University of Ottawa,
Martin Skowronski, University of Toronto,
Malinda S. Smith, University of Alberta,
Donald Swartz, Carleton University,
Sunera Thobani, University of British Columbia,
Sarah Todd, Carleton University,
Wiliam Walters, Carleton University,
Rosemary Warskett, Carleton University,
Mel Watkins, Simon Fraser University.

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