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by Archives March 5, 2003

Story Idea: CIHR pockets students’ scholarship money

Did you know that when the CIHR gives out its scholarships/awards
it doesn’t have to give the full amount to the students who win those
awards? Instead it can keep half the amount.

Well that’s what happened to me. I am a Concordia graduate student
in the journalism department, and in September 2002, I won the
CIHR “Graduate Science Writers Scholarship.” I was told I would get
$20 000, the amount of the scholarship I had applied for. Instead I’m
only going to collect half that amount.

The CIHR says on their website that this is an annual scholarship,
and starts being paid to the winner on September 1st.
My studies began in June 2002, and end in April 2003, and this was
included on my application for the scholarship.

In November, I was told by Concordia Graduate Awards Manager
Patricia Verret (848-3800), that I could only collect the award during
months when I was a full-time student, meaning, according to her,
from September to April, despite the fact that I was a full-time student
for an entire year (my program started in June). So unless CIHR said
it was OK, Ms Verret told me, I could only collect half the money.

I promptly contacted the CIHR in November, and Ms Sharon Doucet,
Program Delivery co-ordinator with the CIHR, e-mailed me and told
me on January 14, 2003, that she would change the start date of the
award to May 2002 (the first day that I was considered a full-time
student by Concordia University). That never happened.

Instead on March 11, Ms Anik Pilon (613-954-1963
apilon@cihr.gc.ca), of the CIHR, told me that there was no possible
way for me to collect the remainder of the award, unless I was
registered in a full semester of extra and unnecessary courses over
the summer, and postponed my graduation (which will be in April).

So I asked Ms Pilon, if it was simply because of burocracy, that I
wouldn’t get the money. “Yes”, she said.

So it looks like if you get an award from the CIHR, and you finish your
studies in April (as most students do), the CIHR gets to keep at least
1/3 of your award, or 1/2 in my case.

Does this seem fair to you? Why advertise a $20 000 award, if you’re
only willing to give away $10 000?

Sincerely,
Shannon Smith Houle
521-3856
shannon.smith@utoronto.ca

To get more info:

Info about the award:
http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/services/funding/opportunities/
strategic_competitions/science_writer_e.shtml
The CIHR announces the 2002 award winners:
http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/publications/funding/decisions/2002/
science_writer_e.shtml
A story about me winning the award in the Thursday Report:
http://pr.concordia.ca/ctr/2002-03/Nov_7/13-Journalism/index.shtml

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