Research Funding

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Many feel graduate student work is undervalued /Image: Masalai

Many feel graduate student work is undervalued /Image: Masalai

Timmons committed $150,000 to research

Article: Robyn Tocker – A&C Editor

“University is a place you go to get answers,” says Professor Chris Yost. One of the answers he wants is where in the world the research money is going.

On Oct. 24, President Vianne Timmons held a public forum to address the issues brought up at the council meeting. Yost spoke at the forum, voicing his concerns over what is happening to research on the University of Regina campus.

When asked, Yost says graduate students are being underfunded and research in general isn’t being taken seriously.

“Our students do a lot of good research and they are not being as valued as they could be. They devote their lives to it.”

At the U of R, teaching assistants, says Yost, are the lowest funded in the country. With the money already in the university’s pockets, Yost wants said money to go where it belongs: to the students. If it isn’t done, he fears the campus will lose a valuable component.

Despite these fears, Yost says he wouldn’t dream of leaving the U of R.

“I like my students and lab too much to leave. There are elements of support here.”

President Timmons agrees that more needs to be done for research. She has committed $150,000 to research from the University’s contingency fund with an additional $330,000 distributed to the graduate students. The larger sum was announced at the forum and will come from the Saskatchewan Innovation and Opportunity Scholarship program (SIOS).

“Research is a critical component of our university. We will continue to work and support our researchers.”

Timmons says a provincial auditor has been called as well as an external review to make sure the money is going where it is supposed to. She will also have a task force looking at the audit results.

[pullquote]“It makes me feel unappreciated, like my work isn’t worth being paid more.”[/pullquote]

“We need to make sure the system and structure is designed to allow researchers to get the job done.”

Yet for graduate students like Ben Perry, a first year microbiologist, the reality of the situation is appalling.

“I’d make more money flipping burgers.”

Perry, and other graduate students like him, make $15,000 for 12 months of work, which equals out to $1250 per month. After paying tuition, Perry makes $850 for a 60-75 hour week, not including the amount of work he does on weekends. His frustration with the tuition hikes for graduate students isn’t surprising.

When Perry isn’t in the lab, he and other graduates are taking care of their other responsibilities, such as contributing to the community (organizing events) or teaching. With all this work, it makes one wonder how they manage to keep going.

“It makes me feel unappreciated, like my work isn’t worth being paid more.”

He makes the point that, with such a low salary, attracting graduate students to our campus is that much more difficult.

What Perry and other graduate students are asking for isn’t much. An increase in salary and compensation would be nice, but Perry doesn’t hold much hope, not with “the mismanagement of funds on campus.” Still, he wants to finish his Master’s degree and get a PhD, which would hopefully lead to a professorship.

“It’s about the science. It sucks having this feeling of impending doom.”

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