Provincial government renews funding for graduate scholarships

The BC Government has renewed funding for its graduate student scholarships at public post-secondary institutions.

BC first introduced the scholarships in 2018. The scholarships are awarded based on merit to graduate students with research focused in STEM fields, as well as other disciplines such as business administration.

According to a government press release, the ministry is investing $3.75 million dollars to support an additional 250 graduate awards with a minimum of $15,000 each. Ten post-secondary institutions across BC, including UBC, are eligible for this funding.

The goal of these scholarships is to increase the accessibility of graduate education in BC. Anne Kang, minister of advanced education and skills training, wrote in the statement that the scholarships “support our next generation of researchers, innovators and leaders by increasing affordability for our best graduate students and keeping the talent pool in BC.”

Graduate Student Society (GSS) VP External Alireza Kamyabi said that renewing the BC Graduate Student Scholarship has been an advocacy priority for the GSS.

Kamyabi said the GSS has met with MLAs and the ministry to recommend increasing, expanding and permanently funding the scholarship through their submission to the government on the 2021 BC Budget.

In their submission, the GSS emphasized the importance of retaining “the talent pool of current graduate students in BC to contribute to solving present and future challenges in local communities...” Kang’s statement closely echoes the GSS’ prior recommendations to increase investments in the research and innovation sector.

Kamyabi said that this program will not necessarily increase the affordability of graduate school, but will allow universities to enrol and better support more graduate students.

“The $15,000 that it provides students basically subsidizes the enrolment of graduate students,” Kamyabi said.

However, students who receive the scholarships won’t necessarily see a large increase in the stipends they receive as compensation for their research.

“There’s a small minimal increase in the final amount of money that graduate students receive. It varies from department to department, but a student who has received a BC Graduate Scholarship doesn’t necessarily receive more money than a student who hasn’t.”

Regardless, Kamyabi said he is pleased with the renewal of the BC Graduate School Scholarship.

He said the GSS will also continue pushing for the scholarship to expand its STEM focus to cover graduate students in more disciplines, and to ensure the program is a permanent fixture in future graduate education.

“Graduate students have had a very tough year,” he said. “... So this is very good news for graduate students all across the province.”