Graduate student recruitment ramps up
Concordia has recently announced significant improvements in allocating funds to graduate students. The measures are part of an effort to improve the university’s research and advanced training profile.
“We were seriously lacking competitive funding packages for graduate students,” acknowledges Graham Carr, Dean of Graduate Studies. He is confident that newly announced programs will change that.
New funds have been made available, including the recently announced $3 million to be offered over the next three years as multi-year tuition waivers for promising international graduate students.
“This will allow us to double the number of students we can offer tuition waivers to,” explains Carr. Currently, Quebec’s Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport provides funds for 30 to 35 international students.
That change in the university’s budget was approved by Fred Lowy hours after he took up his duties as Concordia’s President in January. “It’s a signal from the top that there is significant support for graduate studies,” says Carr.
Louise Dandurand, Vice-President Research and Graduate Studies, emphasizes this commitment: “It is essential for our university to attract top level graduate students, and we are badly in need of putting in place competitive measures in this regard.”
The new funding is being offered in tandem with new ways of allocating funds already available. “Part of the whole strategy is to take the money we have and use it in a better way in terms of recruitment and retention,” explains Carr. For instance, changes to the graduate fee billing structure introduced last year represented significant savings for the university, which have been translated into 60 one-time $10,000 awards for graduate students, both new and returning.
Carr credits the university’s Chief Financial Officer Patrick Kelley for his commitment to increasing funds available for graduate students. This builds on past initiatives such as the Special Entrance Awards for newly recruited external fellowship holders.
Another significant change is that some funds are now being made available earlier, at the departmental level. Carr says that in the past, funds allocated to potential graduate students were not determined until March. By then, students who had applied in the fall might have already decided to go elsewhere, where funding was more readily available. With departments empowered to offer a limited number of awards up front, top students can be recruited more efficiently.
Retention is also a consideration. To that end, funds that were primarily available for PhD students and post-doctoral fellows to present their research at refereed conferences or juried expositions have been expanded and are now available through competition to all qualified graduate students. Similarly, funds have been increased for students who are making rapid progress through their graduate degrees to accelerate completion of their theses, dissertations and major research projects.
• Concordia's School of Graduate Studies
• Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport