The University of British Columbia has launched two new major entrance scholarships for First Nations, Métis and Inuit students entering UBC undergraduate programs from secondary school, in an effort to attract and support the most accomplished and promising Aboriginal students from across Canada.
The $5,000 Aboriginal Major Entrance Scholarships – renewable for up to three additional years for a total of $20,000 if students maintain their academic standing – will be awarded annually to Aboriginal students according to broad-based criteria, including academic excellence, leadership qualities and outstanding contributions to the community.
“These new awards will help more First Nations, Métis and Inuit students benefit from opportunities at UBC, where researchers, students and staff are engaged with issues of major importance to Aboriginal communities,” says Linc Kesler, Director of the UBC First Nations House of Learning. “Aboriginal students who come to UBC will join a growing community working at the forefront of these important issues.”
“Many people believe that all Aboriginal students have their university paid for, but this just isn’t the case and we have heard consistently from students and communities that financial hardship remains a barrier to post-secondary education,” says Graeme Joseph, Coordinator of Strategic Aboriginal Initiatives. “It is critical that we remove these barriers to ensure Aboriginal students get the education that best meets their needs.”
UBC’s Aboriginal Strategic Plan aims to do just that, but these new awards are just part of the picture. Since the plan was launched in 2009, K-12 outreach programs have been expanded, the team of staff in place to support Aboriginal students has increased, and the university has nearly doubled its complement of Aboriginal Faculty members.
These efforts are starting to have an impact. This September UBC’s Vancouver campus admitted 117 new Aboriginal undergraduate students – a 56% increase from the year before. Over 680 UBC Vancouver students currently self-identify as Aboriginal.
In addition to awards open to all students, each year nearly $600,000 in scholarships, bursaries, awards, and fellowships is reserved specifically for Aboriginal students at UBC Vancouver. Just over half of this funding is directed to Aboriginal graduate students.
These awards are part of the Major Entrance Scholarship Program for which incoming students have already applied. Recipients will be announced later this Spring. For other Aboriginal student awards the application deadline is May 31st, 2012 and applications can be found on the Aboriginal Awards Page