Executive Summary

Robust graduate student supports underpin the success of a research-intensive university.  CGPS stewards annually just over $10 million from general operating funds for graduate awards and scholarships as well as funding for graduate teaching assistantships.  

A complex system has evolved over many years and is hybrid in terms of allocating a portion of the funds to eligible units under individual agreements (devolved funding) and several centrally adjudicated scholarships.  There are also many small streams of special purpose funding, some of which are allocated to Colleges/Schools.  The requirements in terms of eligibility and requirements to match are onerous to administer for both units and CGPS. There is general dissatisfaction due to the complexity of the system and challenges in using the Dean’s Scholarship funds effectively in the recruitment of top students due to timing.  

A working group was formed in 2021 to analyze the existing funding streams and to propose a better and simplified system while retaining the fundamentals desired to provide prestigious scholarships and base support for graduate students.  

Scholarship and Bursaries from endowed funds administered through CGPS and funds administered by Schools and Colleges are not within the scope of this project.

Working Group Composition

CGPS Dean Chair
4 Faculty Members  Includes a representative body of graduate chairs from the sciences, humanities, professional programs and CGPS awards committee
Project Support Heather Lukey (Director of Scholarships and Awards, CGPS
Lori Lisitza (Executive Officer and Assistant to the Dean, CGPS)

Institutional Planning and Assessment


Guiding Principles

The following guiding principles were developed and vetted by graduate studies' stakeholders [adopted winter 2021]

  •  Student Funding includes Scholarships (performance-based) and Bursaries (need-based) and Employment. 
  • Competitive funding packages are pivotal to recruiting doctoral students and thesis-based master’s students. 
  • Competitive funding packages require multi-year commitments that align with minimum times to completion. 
  • Scholarships are important to recruit students to course-based master's programs. 
  • Student funding provides access to programs. 
  • Student funding is meant to allow students to focus on their program (less outside work, extend childcare etc.).   
  • Scholarships should reward excellence; there are various ways to define excellence.
  • Scholarships and awards need to keep pace with rising costs, especially tuition. 
  • Competitive funding requires top-ups to external scholarships that track with tuition increases. 
  • Nimble funds are required for recruitment that is offered at the time of admission 
  • Centrally adjudicated scholarships should be more prestigious and therefore competitive, than those allocated to units. 
  • Eligibility for scholarships or funding packages must be transparent. For example, if scholarships and/or Assistantships exclude those working full-time outside the university or in alignment with TriAgency awards categories of university employees (e.g. faculty members) it must be clear for all applicants. 
  • A minimum funding guarantee provides predictability for students which supports mental wellbeing.
  • There is a responsibility of supervisors to financially support students where students provide an intellectual contribution to the research program of their supervisor.
  • Incenting college/department/faculty behaviour through matching schemes must be counterbalanced by the overhead to administer for the unit and CGPS and not asking the same funds to incent too many different things.

The Proposal

Reduce from 16 to 9 funding streams Allocate at least 50% of the funds to units.  The allocated funds will be divided between two streams: a highly flexible student support fund and a structured recruitment scholarship.  

Critically, the proposal recommends units be required to have a blanket minimum funding guarantee policy for ALL PhD students to be eligible for an allocation of recruitment scholarships in order to eliminate the various matching requirements for different types of funding.  

The ability to provide robust funding guarantees is critical to recruiting high-quality PhD students.  A concomitant change to reduce/remove international tuition for PhD students will aid in achieving the goal to provide competitive funding guarantees to all international PhD students. 

The values of the scholarships are proposed in a tiered fashion with increases to existing and a series of minor adjustments to the remaining programs are proposed to facilitate forecasting and maximize uptake of scholarships and reduce administrative burden.   

The proposal also recommends leveraging resources used to rank applications to Tri-Agency for awarding the most prestigious internal scholarships with a parallel process for international students.   

There is also provision for CGPS to increase the support matching for externally funded (national) training programs and improve transparency for matching. 


Before implementation can begin steps must be taken to ensure we do this right. Over the next several months (as of Jan 2022) work continues to fine-tune allocation models that fit and/or can be adapted to ensure an equitable distribution of funding is maintained without units experiencing any reductions to current funding allocations provided by CGPS.

The 2022-23 academic year funding allocation remains as status quo. Implementation of the new model will begin after all consultation has concluded and tools for implementation have been created. 

The most recent version was distributed to Graduate Chairs and Graduate Associate Deans with an ask to share among your colleges/schools/programs. Fine-tuning of Model 5 is underway. We know that there is not a one size fits all solution; conversations continue.

Yes. The following policy/process documents are currently in draft and will be circulated to the graduate community for feedback soon.

  1. Guidelines for Graduate Committees
  2. CGPS Minimum Funding Standards for Doctoral Students

Collaboration and feedback are absolutely crucial to this project. You are invited to provide confidential comments directly to Dean Burshtyn through this form.