GSA awards grants to students

Photo by Paige Bush

Photo by Paige Bush

The Wilfrid Laurier University Graduate Student’s Association has increased the accessibility of funding opportunities for Laurier’s graduate student population.

The grant money, totaling $8,552, was awarded to students to be used towards professional development opportunities such as the attendance of conferences, workshops or academic competitions.

Given the current competitive climate of the work force, activities such as participation in case competitions or the presentation of research at conferences are considered integral to being a successful graduate student.

Many students, however, are not aware of the costs which can arise on top of tuition, a situation not aided by the current lack of funding from the university itself.

“This is meant to compliment the limit funding that’s available from the university currently,” said Ian Muller, president and chief executive officer of the GSA. “This is to try and allow our students to have as many opportunities as possible to complete a well-rounded education.”

New this year is the implementation of grants available by semester. Which means students will be able to apply for a grant in the same term as their professional development opportunity, ensuring that as many students have access to the funds as possible.

The grants, which can be applied for using an online submission form created by the GSA, are available for denominations of up to $200.

“These opportunities are increasingly more expensive, if you’re researching or going to conferences internationally it gets very expensive,” said Muller.

“There’s a lot of diverse kind of opportunities that people are exploring, and with that comes a pretty high cost, so we’re trying to offset that as much as we can.”

Though the association is waiting for the first year’s completion before assessing which periods involve the most activities, applications for the fall have already risen to 44 recipients from the 33 they received in the spring term.

The funding is not intended for activities explicitly required of programs. Rather the belief is that by supporting students in their personal development these activities help in the development of the graduate community as a whole.

“These are things that are really going to help them to be more productive and more successful graduate students, so it’s really for us about creating opportunity and enabling some of these skills to be developed,” said Muller. “They then bring this back and share with their colleagues and enrich the Laurier environment as well.”

Though the funds available are just a fraction of the cost incurred by students embarking on international conferences or participating in high profile competitions, students are nonetheless appreciative of the help being offered.

“I think it just helps to off-set the cost,” said Andrea Gal, a PhD candidate in history, who utilized the grant to help attend a conference in Toronto.“It gives [students] a greater range of opportunities that they might not be able to take otherwise.”

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