March 4, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 80  

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NEWS

Grad funding examined

By Laura Katsirdakis
Gazette Staff

Concerns raised by graduate students at Western regarding their Special University Scholarships not being delivered has raised questions about the state of graduate funding in Canada.

The introduction last summer of a new scholarship by the federal government, called the Canada Graduate Scholarship, is at the crux of the issue, said Cynthia Leighton, a second-year PhD student in theory and criticism.

The CGS is worth $35,000 at the doctoral level, almost double the amount usually given in scholarships, she said. “The number of students that it is given to is a fraction of the amount of grad students — about 10 per cent.”

To find out more about the issue, Leighton requested information from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the funding body that distributes the CGS. “The introduction of CGS forced [smaller funding bodies] and universities to renegotiate the way they fund their graduate students,” she said, adding this reorganization could explain the failure of the SUS scholarship to be delivered those it was promised to.

“[This new scholarship] comes at a time when the government is de-regulating tuition, when there is no promise of restoring funding to universities and when wealthy universities like Western are having a hard time funding their students,” Leighton said.

“Cynthia is talking about speculation and rumours,” said Marty Kreiswirth, dean of the faculty of graduate studies.

“Some people like to be alarmist; I don’t know where she got the information,” he said, explaining that if students did not get money they were promised, they should have approached their graduate chairs. “I don’t think [the other students] went about it right.”

Last year there was a 14 per cent increase from Western in funding for scholarships, Kreiswirth explained, adding the total scholarship money awarded to Western graduate students was $37 million.

Kreiswirth added that a task force has been set up to investigate the distribution of funding for graduate students. “[It is] going to confer with graduate students, [the Society of Graduate Students] and grad chairs.”

According to Kreiswirth, the task force’s goal is to strike a balance between students getting the government awards and those without. “The goal is to get the very best students and have the funding for the students who don’t get the awards.”

“Grad studies is in the process of reviewing funding,” said Daryl White, SOGS president, adding he doubts the CGS is related to the SUS problem since the FGS has not changed its policy.

 

 

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