The number of scholarships and bursaries available to U of C students has increased thanks to nine new awards approved at General Faculties Council on June 6, 2002. Karen Armstrong of the Financial Aid office explained that the awards will make the costs of education for nine more students easier to handle.
"These awards will improve access for University of Calgary Students," said Armstrong, adding the university is making an effort to increase the number of awards it offers.
Vice President Academic of the Students' Union Rosie Nagra believes the awards are beneficial, but that the university needs to do more to increase the number of awards it offers.
"As far as awards go, the U of C is not up to par with other institutions," said Nagra, "So the more awards we get the more we can help undergrads finance their education."
While Armstrong was unable to say whether or not the U of C will be focusing more on merit awards or needs-based bursaries, it is something the university's Academic Awards Committee will be considering. Nagra feels there is a definite need for more needs-based awards.
"The Student Academic Assembly believe we need more bursaries," said Nagra. "We also believe the required course load for awards should be lowered from nine to eight full courses."
However, the new awards passed by GFC were not without controversy. Several members expressed concerns with two awards that give preference "to students from South and Southeast Asia," claiming these requirements discriminated unfairly against certain students.
Dr. Ken Lukowiak of the Faculty of Medicine felt that scholarships should only be based on academic merit and should not be prejudiced towards students of specific ethnic or geographical origins.
"Scholarships are merit awards," stated Lukowiak. "Therefore they should only look at academic merit."
Nagra believes that donors attempt to place restrictions on awards in order to ensure that recipients have the same sort of experiences and challenges as the donor.
"Many scholarships have restrictions regarding sex, geographical region, etc.," explained Nagra. "It's up to the donor, but the fewer restrictions there are the more likely the best candidate will receive the award."
Lukowiak feels the University should be asking donors to remove restrictions from merit-based scholarships in order to protect students.
"The University can ask donors to make their terms more general," argued Lukowiak. "The University should explain to them why restrictions are not in students' best interests."
While acknowledging restrictions are not always good for students, Nagra doesn't feel the University should be refusing donors who demand them.
"It's better to have scholarships with restrictions than none at all," said Nagra.
Lukowiak fears that the University is adopting a "donor mentality," pointing out that if the University allows any type of award they may be doing students more harm than good in the long run by compromsing the quality of awards. He feels awards not based on merit should not be called "scholarships."
The Gordon Lewis Hedberg Doctoral Scholarship, for Electrical and Computer Engineering students, is valued at $6,000 a year, for three years. Named after an alumnus of the Electrical Engineering program, it is intended for PhD students.
The Bernie Lieff Memorial Award is a one-year, $2,000 award for those studying parks, protected areas and ecosystem management. A dedicated conservationist, Lieff was also an adjunct professor at the U of C.
The next new award celebrates the U of C's first director of the Early Childhood Education program, Richard Hirabayashi. This one-year, $1,000 award is direct towards anyone in Education who is specializing in early childhood education, ethnic diversity, human rights or multicultural and First Nation issues.
The Sarla Sethi Graduate Scholarship was created to mark the associate professor's retirement. Directed towards students of Perinatal nursing, it is worth $1,500. Preference will be given to students from South and Southeast Asia studying under student authorization.
Keeping things in the family, Dr. Sethi established the Shanti Swarup and Shanti Devi Chugh Graduate Scholarship in Nursing to thank her parents for their personal sacrifices. Also directed at Perinatal nursing students, it is worth $1,500. As above, preference will be given to students from South and Southeast Asia.
Nurses continue their lucky streak with the Kurt and Lillian Newbert Entrance Bursaries in Nursing. Each of these two awards are worth $1,500 and are awarded to first year nursing students based on financial need and academic merit.
And not to leave out second and third year students, there's the Kurt and Lillian Newbert Undergraduate Bursaries in Nursing. These two , $1,500 awards are for continuing undergraduate students in the Nursing program.
Third or fourth year students in Mechanical Engineering have a chance to be awarded the Rob Newman Memorial Bursary, so long as they, or a member of their family, are a member of the American Society of Refrigeration, Heating and Air Conditioning Engineers. This award is worth $1,000.
For more information, contact the Student Awards Office at 220-6925.