In May of 2012, the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Postdoctoral Affairs (FGPA) proposed dramatic changes to the administration of Ontario Graduate Scholarships (OGS) for the 2012-13 academic year at Carleton. As a result, internally funded OGS recipients at Carleton in 2012-13 who have any ‘departmental scholarship’ will see these funds, up to limit of $5000, used to for the Carleton contribution to the total OGS award. For many OGS recipients in 2012-13 this change amounted to an unexpected $5000 internal funding claw back. You can read more about these changes and the GSA response on the GSA website.

While the above decision for 2012-13 remains unchanged, the Graduate Faculty Board (GFB) has passed an alternative proposal for future OGS recipients. From 2013-2014 and onward, OGS recipients will receive the $15000 OGS award as usual, in addition to a set $5000 departmental scholarship. This means that for those students who win an OGS and do not already have a departmental scholarship or have one that amounts to less than $5000, the departmental scholarship will be increased to $5000. However, for those students who have a departmental scholarship in excess of $5000, that amount will be lowered to $5000 (see table for funding details).

The new model proposes redistribution for OGS recipients which results in students with smaller departmental scholarships winning larger awards than have ever been offered. Nevertheless, students with larger departmental scholarships that receive an OGS will see a claw back, up to $5,000, of their originally promised departmental scholarship. The proposed scheme would prove a greater benefit to those students who receive OGS and have not been offered a departmental scholarship, or who have been offered a departmental scholarship of less than $5000. This scheme appears to be closer to a system of equalization for a greater number of students as a majority of Carleton graduate students with departmental scholarships are allocated less than $5000 per year. However, this is an equalization measure within a sphere of well-funded students who receive OGS. Some departmental chairs voiced concerns that we are giving additional funding to OGS recipients when they would rather give this money to students without any funding.

Under the new model, OGS recipients will receive more funding from Carleton on average. However, there is an explanation for this extra money in the budget of the FGPA. There has been a province wide change in OGS awards, which means that the administration of the awards is entirely downloaded onto the host university, within a quota set by the province. This quota is set by a standard measure of full time enrollment, which does not reflect the disproportionately high success of Carleton students in the OGS competition. Thus, Carleton students have been allocated fewer OGS awards than we have previously been awarded, and subsequently the FGPA needs to pay out fewer $5000 contributions to the award. This means that there is more money in this budget, which the FGPA believes will have a positive effect on recruitment in the new alternative payment arrangement than in the standard $15000 per OGS recipient award, as has been past practice at Carleton until 2012-2013.

This change will benefit many OGS recipients and continue to claw back from others, but is at its core a recruitment tool for Carleton to make their OGS award appear more desirable than other Ontario Universities. All Ontario universities now manage their OGS awards separately, and the awards are non-transferrable, which means that prospective students must apply separately for an OGS at every institution they would like to consider attending, and will have different odds at different schools. Similarly, students are now eligible for six years of combined OGS and SSHRC funding in their lifetimes, and 5th and 6th year PhDs may now hold OGS awards. While it is important to include these students in funding opportunities, they are likely to be a strong group of students who will always receive the full $20 000 package given that no 5th and 6th year students hold departmental scholarships. Additionally, there has been no accompanying increase in the number of awards, and the OGS will likely become much more competitive.

The GSA still holds that the original claw back to 2012-2013 winners was a poor decision and an act of bad faith; the FGPA imposed an unexpected claw back to internal funding for students who had already won OGS awards and broke with precedent. For many students, this new arrangement will reverse those changes, for others it will prove a greater benefit, and for some it will be an equal or greater claw back to internal funding than the original changes to the 2012-2013 scheme. In contrast to the sudden changes to the 2012-2013 awards, Dean Clement met with the GSA executive to inform us about the new alternative OGS payment proposal with ample notice and allowed GFB to vote on the change. Graduate students should feel free to contact the FGPA or the GSA’s VP-Academic with questions or feedback.

Download a PDF of a chart detailing the changes.