STUDENTS in graduate-level degree programs at the University of British Columbia (UBC) will be able to focus more intently on research and innovation because of a $6-million scholarship fund that will also help recruit and retain the province’s brightest minds.
“Graduate students at UBC are pushing the boundaries of research, while improving the quality of life for all British Columbians,” said Melanie Mark, Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training, on Wednesday. “This long overdue investment in scholarships will help recruit and retain more graduate talent, so we can build the best B.C. for everyone.”
The merit-based graduate student scholarship funding from government will be administered by UBC, making 400 awards of $15,000 each available for eligible domestic students. UBC is also leveraging this provincial funding to encourage donors to support graduate students. Donors will be invited, under UBC’s Blue and Gold fundraising campaign, to add their own donations to benefit graduate students in Vancouver and the Okanagan.
“The University of British Columbia is an integral partner in developing the highly skilled graduates, and research, that our tech and innovation sector relies on to continue thriving and expanding B.C.’s economy,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology. “Our $6-million scholarship investment will directly help grad students, so they can spend more energy focused on their innovative research.”
The graduate scholarships are research focused, with an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, as well as professional, Indigenous and regional programs.
Graduate students at UBC and throughout the province are creating new knowledge and finding solutions to pressing real-world challenges.
In October 2018, Matthew Noestheden, a UBC Okanagan PhD student, developed a new test to detect wildfire-tainted wine grapes, helping wine producers better manage their crops during the wildfire seasons. New research from Christine Ou, a nursing PhD student at UBC’s Vancouver campus, is looking to help women during their postpartum period by identifying anger as an often-overlooked feature of postnatal mood disorders.
The Province says the scholarships reflect B.C.’s commitment to true, lasting reconciliation with Indigenous peoples through implementing recommendations made by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and Calls to Action by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Eligible Indigenous graduate students will be supported in the graduate student scholarship program.
Santa Ono, UBC President and Vice Chancellor, said: “Graduate-level research pushes the boundaries of human knowledge. UBC’s position as one of the top research universities in the world is due in large part to the talent of its masters and doctoral students at both UBC campuses. These scholarships encourage our most innovative and creative researchers to excel without limits.”
Matthew Noestheden, UBC Okanagan PhD student, noted: “I’ve always been passionate about applied research, but without the support of graduate-funding agencies, the financial realities of supporting a young family would have precluded this opportunity for me to pursue postgraduate education. The creation of a scholarship fund specifically for graduate students in B.C. is exciting, since it will help recruit talented young researchers, which is critical to the ability of academic institutions to address current and future socio-economic and scientific challenges relevant to the province.”
Sydney Morgan, UBC Okanagan PhD student, added: “Going to graduate school at UBC Okanagan was one of the best decisions I’ve made, and the graduate funding I’ve received along the way has allowed me to fully commit to my field. For many, graduate studies can quickly become out of reach if not for scholarships and financial support. I hope this scholarship fund can help other students make the same life-changing decision that I did.”
John Ede, President of UBC’s Graduate Students Society, said: “Graduate students need and deserve government’s support. Graduate students’ discoveries contribute to improving all of our lives, so this fund is greatly needed.”
* There are about 16,000 domestic students enrolled in graduate degree programs at 10 public post-secondary institutions in B.C.
* The University of British Columbia has about 7,700 students in the province’s widest variety of graduate and professional programs.
* As part of the tech-expansion plan, B.C. is investing in 2,900 new tech spaces by 2023, including 720 at UBC, and Women in Technology scholarships.