A new $2.25-million graduate-student scholarship fund at the University of Victoria will support students and help spark innovation, economic growth and research that benefits communities and individuals throughout the province.
“We’re continuing to break down barriers by investing in affordable post-secondary education, with a new merit-based graduate-student scholarship fund that will build B.C.’s leadership,” said Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training Melanie Mark,. “Our government wants graduate students to thrive and succeed. Investing $2.25 million in graduate scholarships at UVic will help recruit and retain the best graduate students, while keeping our province competitive.”
The new scholarships, administered by the University of Victoria, are part of the $12-million fund announced by the province in May 2018. The fund will support 800 awards of $15,000 each, for students in graduate degree programs around the province, through 2020-21.
“B.C.’s tech sector is booming, but with success has come challenges in finding and hiring people with the necessary skills to fill the growing number of jobs in this thriving industry,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology. “These new graduate scholarships, combined with our $10.5-million investment in co-op opportunities and entrepreneurial training, will help deepen the talent pool for employers, and provide students with access to well-paying jobs.”
The scholarships are research-focused, with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and include professional programs, such as business administration and health.
“Graduate students play a crucial role in the university’s research activity – both as producers of outstanding research, and as connectors of our research to undergraduate students, and outwards to business and industry,” said Jamie Cassels, president of the University of Victoria. “Supporting these students is an investment in the discovery and innovation that will make a vital impact in B.C. and beyond.”
There are about 16,000 domestic students enrolled in graduate degree programs at 10 public post-secondary institutions in B.C. eligible for the scholarships. The University of Victoria has about 2,600 students in graduate degree programs.
“At UVic’s Centre for Aerospace Research (CfAR), we’re working at the leading edge of the aerospace industry for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) research,” said Jay Matlock, UVic master of mechanical engineering student, and engineer-in-training at CfAR. “Grad students are key to advancing aerospace research, since they bring passion and willingness to try new things that lead to innovation. The students at CfAR are directly involved with everything from conceptualization and prototyping, to manufacturing and flight testing. It wouldn’t be possible without graduate funding. With additional funding, we’ll be able to accelerate our impact in a range of areas, such as search and rescue, disaster response, mining exploration, environmental monitoring and telecommunications.”
Student groups, and other post-secondary sector partners, have long advocated for a graduate scholarship program, as British Columbia lagged behind other provinces with a comparable graduate scholarship program.
“We want University of Victoria graduates to get the support they need, so this is a step in the right direction by government,” said Arash Isapour, chair, University of Victoria Graduate Students Society. “Helping graduate students achieve their educational goals is a win for everyone.”
As part of the tech-expansion plan, B.C. is investing in 2,900 new tech spaces, including 500 student spaces at UVic, in addition to funding support for graduate-student scholarships and women-in-technology scholarships.