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The History of the QES Program

Celebrating our Sovereign

The idea for 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, under the leadership of the Right Honourable Jean Chrétien and the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada (2010-17), as well as with remarkable contributions from the Government of Canada, provincial governments, and the private sector, this inspiring scholarship initiative was created: the Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships program.

This program represents a unique opportunity to mobilize a dynamic community of young global leaders across Canada to create lasting impacts both at home and abroad through cross-cultural exchanges encompassing international education, discovery and inquiry, and professional experiences.

Students and researchers selected for the scholarship program are designated “Queen Elizabeth Scholars” and engage with communities across the globe, learn about cultures and create projects and actions that impact the world. They join a global community of Queen Elizabeth Scholars to share knowledge, exchange ideas, and collaborate on meaningful initiatives.

A unique program structure

The success of the QES program speaks to the relevance of what is ultimately a decentralized model – unique to the Canadian landscape of global-mobility focused scholarship programs. Projects awarded reflect particular university areas of expertise and regional concern, while contributing to the strengthening of partnerships between Canadian and international institutions. This model is not only extremely efficient from an operational standpoint, it also places the control for design and implementation where it is best managed, namely, at the level of the participating university.

To date, three calls for proposals have been issued to Canadian universities:

2014– This inaugural call for proposals focused on partnerships with countries within the Commonwealth, and targeted undergraduate and graduate students.

2016 – This second phase of the QES program is generously funded by the International Development Research Council (IDRC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Countil (SSHRC), and extends the QES program beyond the Commonwealth to provide 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. Canadian researchers, meanwhile, gain more exposure to the international experience they need to become leaders in globally competitive work environments.

2017 – The third phase of the QES program supports undergraduate and graduate students as they enrich their academic, professional and cross-cultural skills while contributing to global projects led by participating Canadian universities.

2019 – The most recent phase of the QES program is generously funded by the Waugh Family Foundation to support projects in Latin America and the Caribbean that focus on education, social services and health.

QES impact over the course of three program cycles:

  • $80 million raised to support scholarships
  • 44 Canadian universities leading projects
  • $15 million raised to support scholar and alumni community engagement
  • More than 2,000 QE Scholars awarded and completed placements abroad to date
  • 89 projects awarded
  • A projected total of 3,000 scholars through 2022
  • 63 countries featuring QES projects and Canadian students
  • 650 partner organizations abroad (universities, NGOs, research institutes)

The program benefits from important collaborations with Canadian universities, Community Foundations of Canada (CFC), Universities Canada and the Rideau Hall Foundation (RHF).

Through its promotion of international academic mobility and civic engagement, the QES program is helping to grow young Canadians into global citizens while promoting Canada as a destination for the world’s top talent and attracting top talent and international research leaders to Canada.