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University of Saskatchewan students rally for better funding

More than 60 students rallied outside The Bowl at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) on Tuesday in support of increased funding for researchers and higher pay for graduate students and postdoctoral students.

Una Goncin, president of the College of Medicine Graduate Student Society, is one of those research students who rallied for change.

“After we pay our tuition and we get our stipend, we get somewhere between $500 to maybe $1,000 a month, and that is to cover your rent, your food, utilities,” said Goncin.

According to Goncin, there are 280,000 graduate students across Canada who are mostly all living below the poverty line. An organizer for the rally says master's students receive $15,000 to $25,000 while postdoc students receive $20,000 to $30,000 annually.

“If you’re out here on your own, it’s really tough to go to school and make ends meet,” said Goncin.

Students want to see an increase in federal funding, which a professor says hasn't risen much since he was a student in the late 1990s.

“The base amount of funding per student who receives one of these nationally level scholarships needs to be increased to a level beyond what has persisted for at least a couple of decades,” said College of Medicine professor John Howland.

“We’re here to try and get the federal government to increase the number of awards, the amount of the awards, and try and give a better quality of life for our scholars,” she said.

Protesters also want to see more funding devoted to research. According to Howland, the lack of funding is making it tougher to recruit students.

“I have seen an increase in the difficulty to recruit and retain the best and brightest students in my lab,” said Howland.

The rally had students walk out at 11:00 a.m. The walkout was part of a nationwide movement "Support our Science," happening at 45 universities. Students and professors are calling for a 50 per cent increase.

“I want to see funding for grants increased because a lot of the supervisors want to pay us more, but their grants are so small by the time they actually pay everyone, there’s not a lot of money left for the actual sciences,” said University of Saskatchewan research student Breanne Bevelander.

The U of S said it is supportive of the student's aims.

“We understand and underline the importance of the concern of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows that their Tri-Agency funding levels have not increased for more than a decade. In support of our students, we would welcome an increase in the value of graduate and postdoctoral scholarships, awards, and grants from federal funding agencies as well," the university said in a statement.

CTV News has reached out to the Federal Ministry of the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry and is awaiting a response. Top Stories

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