Friday, November 12, 2010

McGuinty: What's $3 Million a Year in Foreign Scholarships?

Afterall, it's investing in our future. Discuss!


Brent said...

I was curious, so I looked at the Ontario PC website to see what there plan for post-secondary education was.

"Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak and Jim Wilson, PC Critic for Training, Colleges and Universities, launched a petition calling on Dalton McGuinty to cancel his plan to hand out $30 million in scholarships to foreign students and instead to invest those funds in Ontario students.

Jim Wilson will consult with students on the best way the government can reinvest the funds to benefit Ontario students. The Ontario PC petition was launched online and will be distributed on campuses around the province."

In other words, there is no plan beyond cutting the existing funding. Yeah, they're Tories all right.

Mike said...

Opposition to this to me seems to smack of xenophobia.

Taking the logic of cancelling $3 million a year sholarships to foreign PhD students further (note no one is talking about foreign scholarships for anything than PhDs), why not cut Canada's foreign aid budget to ZERO?

After all, lots of Canadians are suffering, why shouldn't we shouldn't we put all our bags in helping just Canadians before we help starving children in Africa?

The reason, I thought, was that Canadians are compassionate people and we aren't a me-first nation. Opposition to this proposed scholarships for foreign PhD students make me question whether that's changed.

Almost all Canadian students admitted to PhD programs have their costs covered by in-house scholarships and appointments provided by the university. Many foreign students don't get their expenses fully covered and have to put up upwards of $50,000 in seed money just to be accepted. So why would they come to Canada, when the United States DOES give generous scholarships to foreign PhD students?

I'm a Canadian, and I, along with many other Canadians, are getting fully funded PhD scholarships in the US right now. I'm the ONLY Canadian in my program who's planning to come back to Canada after I'm done.

If we got bright foreign students to come to Canada instead of the US you can bet they'd stay in Canada then and we'd be the beneficiaries instead of our neighbours to the South.

But then what do I know? Perhaps you can explain why this PhD scholarships policy has got people so riled up James? Do we really not want to compete for the best and brightest minds?

Is chopping foreign aid budgets and immmigration levels next?

Mike said...

What's really strange too, is that I don't remember ANY opposition to this when it was announced by Stephen Harper this past July:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper Announces Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships

WATERLOO, ONTARIO —Prime Minister Stephen Harper today announced the establishment of the Government of Canada's Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships, a prestigious new program to attract and develop the world's best and brightest postdoctoral researchers in Canada....

The Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships is a prestigious new program designed to attract and retain in Canada the best researchers in the world. The program will award 70 new fellowships a year valued at $70,000 annually for two years, totalling $45 million over five years. The value of these awards is competitive internationally and represents the same international calibre and prestige offered by the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships ($50,000 annually for three years).

(see link here)

And who's going to win the 99% of these scholarships? Foreign students. And this is costing a fair bit more money than McGuinty's plan. So what gives?

Is it really non-controversial to offer foreign scholarships for post-docs, but then offering them for PhDs like McGuinty is doing is worthy of a firestorm?

It would be nice if Canadians could see the benefits of both.

James Curran said...

Well you ask a fair question there Mike. Why are people so riled up over McGuinty's announcement? I'll tell ya why.

1. The McGuinty gov't talking heads can't explain to people as eloquently as you just did.

2. The Conservative spin machine is far superior than the Liberal idea machine.

3. Harper's gov't didn't just introduce the most despised tax since the GST in 1990.

Mike said...

Sigh...the sad thing is I really wonder if Hudak even opposes this on principle or just sees a political opportunity to exploit?
The guy does have an MA in Economics after all.

So what does Hudak think of the those even larger scholarships for foreign students that Harper announced last July?

Are the same people who praised Harper's "foresight" for the Banting post-doctoral scholarships for foreign students, now railing against these smaller PhD scholarships McGuinty's proposing?

My guess in no one in the media even asks Hudak about that. I really think the guy has gotten a total free pass from the media so far. Doesn't bode well for the province's future unfortunately.

James Curran said...

Hudak probably doesn't even know about Harper's announcement...or McGuinty for that matter....or the media.

Mike said...

Well the media gave Harper lavish coverage at the time of his announcement, it was in every major newspaper and news outlet. If I recall correctly this was announced as part of a photo op with Stephen Hawking (who actually not a Canadian either, perish the thought we'd want similar minds to come here for PhDs).

See here for instance:

So the media know about these $75,000 a year fellowships that are going to go to foreign students. So why not ask Hudak if he's opposed to those?

It involves more money and the way it's actually being financed is actually by CUTTING the value of post-doctoral fellowships that are available only to Canadian citizens.

I'm not complaining (even though I will be applying for those very same lesser valued post-docs next year) but I sure didn't hear a peep out the same Tories moaning now about McGuinty.

McGuinty isn't taking anything away from the $500 million in scholarships already available to Canadian students. Harper is and he gets a total pass...sigh.

R. G. Harvie said...

Alright James, I'll wade in.

Firstly, my wife is an immigration lawyer, and in our home, we are very understanding of the value that foreign citizens can bring to our country.

So, my response is not at all xenophobic (intelligencia-speak for "bigotted").

The problem?

a) The scholarship is not open to Canadian,specifically, to Ontario students. If we want the "brightest and the best", why specificaly ignore students in your own Province;

b) Following up on this point - Ontario has one of the lowest per capita funding levels of students in Canada- so while you are short changing your own, why now is this money available?

c) Related to this is that Ontario has amongst the highest tuitions for post-secondary education in Canada. Again, if I was an Ontario taxpayer with children in Ontario, I think I would have some reasonable concern for short-changing my kid, and setting up funding for a foreign (non tax-paying) individual.

Evil "conservatives" here in Alberta are paying about $25,000.00per student to post-secondary education. The "kindler, gentler" liberal government in Ontario is spending about $10,000.00 per.

Perhaps if Ontario improves it's programs, that will do more to attract the best and the brightest and to GROW the best and the brightest.

The federal funding doesn't EXCLUDE Canadians like McGuinty's does. It may require re-allocation of funding - but that's hardly the same as saying, "Sorry, I know that you and yours may have grown up and helped build this Province - but you're not entitled to apply."

Imagine if we set up a scholarship and excluded, say, Muslims, or the Chinese, or Homosexuals.. but nothing wrong with setting up a fence around another defined group, "Ontario citizens".

Just some thoughts.

R. G. Harvie said...

Oh, and Mike.. the Banting Scholarships are not for "foreign" students, they are for all applicants, regardless of nationality.

As it should be.

James Curran said...

I'll go out on a limb here Rob. I'd hazard a guess that if Alberta had a debt the size of Ontario's, you'd see that 25K to students disappear pretty fast.