When it comes to government-funded scholarships in Canada, it is easy to get bogged down. Of course, there are the recognizable names like Vanier, Fulbright and Commonweath – but what about all of the others? The answer lies with Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada and the Canadian Bureau of International Education, who partnered up last April to launch Scholarships.gc.ca.
The website offers comprehensive information on scholarships and bursaries available through the various funding agencies and government departments and units for both Canadians and non-Canadians.
“[This website] is for every Canadian studying abroad and for every international student studying in Canada,” says Neil Bakshi, the website’s manager and CBIE’s web developer. He adds that the site was designed to be accessible to all manner of connectivity and all types of platforms and devices – as well as be user-friendly.
The usability is apparent when navigating the website. It is broken into three sub-sections: students and researchers, faculty, and academic institutions. Let’s say a user selects scholarships for non-Canadians – students and researchers. They will see a drop-down menu of countries – by selecting a name, they will see how many scholarships are available. For example, if “Malta” is selected, a list of 13 different scholarships appears – all linked to their respective websites. The list includes the Trudeau Scholarships and the Canada Europe Awards. If “France” is selected, 14 available scholarships appear, including the Vanier Graduate Scholarships.
Thanks to the site’s simplicity, faculty and administrators are able to find a wider variety of scholarships – and maybe even discover some that they didn’t know existed, like the Doctoral Student Research Award from DFAIT or the Visiting Fellowships in Canadian Government Laboratories from NSERC.
Melanie Katsivo, a consultant for international programs at the University of Western Ontario, says having one site that brings together a variety of scholarships is helpful. “It’s a very, very useful tool,” she says.
One of Dr. Katsivo’s main tasks is helping both faculty and students get better informed about available scholarships. She appreciates the fact that when a faculty member asks her if someone from, say, Romania, is eligible to apply for a scholarship, she can simply go to the website and see what is available (15 scholarships).
However, Dr. Katsivo looks at scholarships as much more than opportunities for individual scholars to study in another country. It is also a way for the university to build long-term relationships with other institutions around the world. The University of Western Ontario was recently awarded a $600,000 IDRC grant, which had started at the scholarship level. Since 2005, 10 Kenyan students have visited Western to work on their ecosystem research. That kind of long-term work with the Kenyans laid the groundwork for Western to apply for the IDRC project grant.
“In the short term, the scholarships take a lot of energy, and yes, the student benefits, but my advice is to ask yourself what you want to do in the long term with these institutions,” she says.
That advice falls in line with the government’s own objectives for their scholarship programs: to increase research exchanges and in the government’s case, target certain trade regions. Last April, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the Emerging Leaders in the Americas program, which delivers 1,600 new scholarships to eligible students going to or coming from the Caribbean as well as Central and South America. If you want to find out more information, scholarships.gc.ca has a page dedicated to this program. It describes the different types of scholarships available, who is eligible, as well as the application process.
However, Dr. Katisvo says the site is not comprehensive. She finds it helpful to still go to the individual government granting council sites (CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC). She also advises people to go to the individual countries’ embassy websites to see the kinds of scholarships are being offered that might be missing on the CBIE website.