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An international educational experience has many proven benefits, as described in the recent report Global Education for Canadians: Equipping Young Canadians to Succeed at Home and Abroad, released in November 2017. These benefits include fostering skills like adaptability, resilience, teamwork and intercultural awareness, as well as building global connections, and reinforcing the values of openness and inclusion that are essential to Canada’s success as a diverse and prosperous society.

The Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarship Program, often referred to as the QES program, is an international student mobility program designed to cultivate the next generation of global leaders. The QES program was born from the desire to celebrate and honour the 60th anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the Throne in 2012. Three organizations – the Rideau Hall Foundation, Universities Canada, and Community Foundations of Canada – came together to design the program, and three years later the first Queen Elizabeth Scholars began their journeys of knowledge exchange throughout the Commonwealth.

Since then, through the first phase of the QES program, Canadian universities have sent nearly 800 students for three-month overseas work and study placements, and have welcomed 240 international students to every province in Canada.

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In 2016, generous funding from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) helped to expand the scope and reach of the QES program beyond the Commonwealth, beyond the primarily undergraduate and graduate student level, and with emphasis on incoming mobility from the global South.

This expansion to the original QES, known as the Queen Elizabeth Advanced Scholars (QES-AS), built on IDRC’s long and distinguished experience as one of the world’s principal institutions supporting development research, has created a unique two-way exchange: doctoral, post-doctoral, and early career researchers in low- and middle-income countries have greater access to the advanced education, training, and mentorship that are vital to cutting-edge innovation. Likewise, Canadian researchers are gaining more exposure to development contexts, research networks and academic and industrial sectors in the Global South – precisely the international interactions they need to become leaders in globally competitive work environments.

Another distinct feature of the program are the direct opportunities recipients have to engage with key stakeholders in development, including contributing to local capacity building to improve health, access to education, adapting to climate change, and economic development.

“IDRC is committed to supporting the leaders of tomorrow who will develop solutions to increasingly complex national and global challenges,” said Jean Lebel, President of IDRC. “By joining forces with the Rideau Hall Foundation, Community Foundations of Canada and Universities Canada in the Queen Elizabeth Advanced Scholars program, we are ensuring that the next generation of innovative leaders will contribute to stronger economies, more prosperous societies and large-scale positive change through their applied research, innovations and collaboration.”

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Thanks to a visionary $10 million contribution from IDRC, as well as another $2.5 million from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Centre (SSHRC), this second phase of the QES program is expected to engage an additional 450 researchers in international research projects, strengthening the exchange of global talent between Canada and other nations.

See the full list of winning proposals for the Queen Elizabeth Advanced Scholars.

The QES program is made possible through the leadership of the Rideau Hall Foundation, in collaboration with Universities Canada and Community Foundations of Canada.