UBC Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (G+PS) is aware of the affordability considerations associated with living in major metropolitan areas such as Vancouver, particularly in this time of global inflation. We are also aware of recent concerns voiced by both graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in this regard.
Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows make innovative discoveries during their learning experience at UBC and greatly contribute to the research enterprise of the university – with benefits that span Canada and the world. They are the lifeblood of the university. We know that there have been recent calls for increased funding and petitions to increase financial support (see Support our Science and ‘It’s time for UBC’) to recognize their contributions.
We at G+PS are in support of the intent of these calls. We have contributed to external advocacy efforts, for example, through the Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (CAGS). G+PS Dean Susan Porter, in her role as president of CAGS (2017/18), asked for support in investing in Canadian graduate student researchers, calling on the Tri-Agencies to review their funding models and make adjustments.
We are seeking to continually increase our internal scholarships to match inflation. We were the first university in Canada outside of Ontario to institute a minimum funding level for PhD students, and we review the levels annually with cost of living increases in mind. We agree that Tri-Agency scholarships have not kept pace with inflation, and that this is a concern for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows across Canada.
We have also been working to improve both the amount and quantity of awards provided for students who identify as Indigenous, Black, Persons of Colour, or other equity-seeking groups. We have engaged with students and faculty from these groups over the past year to make changes to our awards, and hope that these changes (for September 2023) will positively impact incoming graduate students.
G+PS has also worked to raise awareness of the importance and value of graduate education, and recently collaborated with UBC's Graduate Student Society on the Graduate Education for the Collective Good project, an initiative that emphasizes the critical contributions that graduate students make.
Additionally, we have been working to raise funding for all students but recognize that this important work may be happening behind the scenes and out of sight for most graduate students, and that the benefits are longer term. The financial wellbeing of our students and postdoc community is important to us, and we hope these conversations continue to happen.