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S&T minister announces Vanier graduate scholarships

May 1, 2009

Remember that this is a $25-million investment from last year’s budget (through CIHR, NSERC, and SSHRC). These scholarships are valued at $50,000 annually for three years, which is almost 2 and 1/2 times the value of a regular graduate scholarship, and 10K more than what regular postdoctoral fellows get (even in their 3rd year after a PhD).

This is supposed to support 500 students annually, though only 166 were announced yesterday.. At this rate, we may have 3 announcements by the minister per year, leading Rob to wonder whether they serve rubber chicken on that circuit.

Some argue that $25K/year graduate scholarships would have doubled the opportunity, wouldn’t have created a two tier system within the graduate student body, and would have spared us unhelpful comparisons with existing postdocs salaries and even those of some junior assistant professors in certain colleges and universities (which should definitely go up!). Moreover, advanced graduate students will need to do some teaching/tutoring/mentoring in order to prepare for their academic careers, and so additional support can then be leveraged through their sponsoring departments. This means that even more graduate scholarships (closer to 1500) could be created with $25-million. Check also what Ryan has to say.

In comparison, remember that 3000 is the number of jobs expected from the $455.1-million invested in BC through the Knowledge Infrastructure Program.

In any case, the research community should also be in the business of asking for accountability and for more prudent and efficient investments in R&D and research infrastructure.

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