Ontario considering funding for foreign graduate students


Ontario is considering funding spots for graduate students from abroad, bowing to pressure from universities that say their global competitiveness is harmed because they have to turn away qualified foreign applicants due to lack of money.

Universities and the ministry responsible for higher eduction have had conversations, and the issue is on the table in talks between the two groups this month. The government says it recognizes the importance of international students for the province and it will implement policies that protect Ontario’s “global reputation.” The issue is difficult politically for the Liberals, because one of their last attempts to deal with it led to accusations from the opposition that then-premier Dalton McGuinty was “out of touch” with voters.

“We are not able to bring in the best and the brightest from around the world and we will start to see Ontario universities falling in the rankings. We’ve started to see that a little bit,” said Allison Sekuler, the dean of graduate studies at McMaster University in Hamilton.

The higher-education ministry said it understands those concerns.

“As a ministry, it is our responsibility to evaluate all proposals brought forward by our partners in the postsecondary sector and to look closely at best practices in other jurisdictions to ensure we’re attracting the best talent,” said Reza Moridi, the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities.

Ontario is one of the few provinces that does not finance graduate students from abroad, although some provincial scholarships are available. To attract top early-stage researchers many schools provide full funding packages that cover tuition and living costs. A 2012 survey from the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) found that Alberta, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia give universities the same amount of money for international students as for domestic ones, and Quebec and B.C. provide partial funding. Read the whole story.

This article was originally published on The Globe and Mail.