Expanding horizons: The career benefits of scholars going abroad

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Research shows that international scholarships can enhance intercultural competencies, strengthen global citizenship and build leadership. However, less is known about the professional and career benefits that participants experience after completing these programs. For instance, do international experiences impact participants’ professional achievements or shape career trajectories?

With the support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Universities Canada is conducting a research project to explore just that: What is the impact of international mobility programs on participant career paths, skills and community involvement? The study also aims to reveal best practices for designing equitable and inclusive international research programs.

The Queen Elizabeth Scholars – Advanced Scholars (QES-AS) is one such program that gives young scholars and early career researchers the opportunity to collaborate on their research internationally. As the ideal program to inform research on international mobility, Universities Canada analyzed the experiences of former QES-AS scholars and participating universities and institutes to determine its impacts on individuals, organizations and communities.

The early results? Many former QES-AS scholars report diverse and impressive professional accomplishments and career benefits they attribute to the program. Despite the challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, participants authored publications, presented research findings, gained international exposure for their work and experienced both academic and career advancement. Hear the stories of a few scholars below. (Note that their names have been changed and certain details have been omitted to maintain confidentiality.)

Bala

QES-AS scholar and graduate student, Bala, travelled across the world to spend several months conducting his research in Canada. With the guidance of his supervisor, he learned how to work effectively with industry and about the different models of public/private partnership in Canada. This new knowledge transformed the way he thought about research collaboration and allowed him to form meaningful partnerships later in his career.

Due to the pandemic, Bala was required to return home early, before completing his research. Despite this bump in the road, he continued his work with ongoing, online support from his supervisor in Canada and his fellow QES-AS scholars. His international experience and newfound support networks helped him achieve his goal of completing and publishing his research in a reputable journal, as well as presenting it at an international conference. Now, Bala enjoys higher recognition and a good reputation in his field of study.

Given his success, he went on to publish two more joint manuscripts and now works at a highly-ranked university in his home country. He credits his remarkable career advancement to his QES-AS experience.

Looking forward, Bala intends to continue furthering his research. He currently leads a research team and modelled his new lab after the one at his Canadian host university. His lab developed and patented a new technology, and received funding to collaborate with a company who will help produce it.

Claudia

Another QES-AS scholar, Claudia, arrived in Canada to conduct her research just a few months before the pandemic. This posed some serious challenges, as her university campus was forced to close and labs became backlogged. However, she persevered and used the time during lockdowns to complete data analysis and writing—an investment that paid off. During this time, she formed valuable connections with American researchers working on a similar project and managed to present her findings in several papers and academic presentations.

Thanks to her new network in the states and her research success, Claudia was inspired to pursue a post-doc in the USA after completing the QES-AS program. Upon return to her home country, she obtained a more senior position at her university, which she credits to these experiences.

Liam

For Liam, the QES-AS experience had an astounding ripple effect on his professional reputation and career. Despite publishing his research from the program a few years ago, he remains recognized for it and continues to receive invitations to present his work to international audiences at top institutions.

Liam’s outstanding research and international exposure caught the eye of his government, who has asked him to expand his study nation-wide. Once completed, his findings will be presented to top policymakers, including those working in the ministry and the nation’s president. It has the potential to effect change throughout his home country.

The results

Initial data from Universities Canada’s study on QES-AS experiences shows how transformative international mobility scholarships have been to the lives and livelihoods of participants. The networks of people, newfound skills and international exposure have helped springboard many in their careers and expand their horizons of what’s possible.

Canadian, West African researchers get support to tackle national and global challenges

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OTTAWA, December 15, 2020 – Two hundred Canadian and West African researchers and advanced scholars will be receiving funding from the new QES Advanced Scholars West Africa program to work together to find solutions to the world’s increasingly complex challenges.

The funding supports research-focused exchanges for doctoral researchers, post-doctoral fellows and early career researchers in universities in Canada and West and Central African countries.

Each of the QES-AS West Africa projects focuses on (or clearly integrates) gender equality – the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 5 – and puts particular emphasis on increasing partnerships between Canada and Francophone countries. All scholars will also participate in leadership development and community engagement activities and in the broader network of Queen Elizabeth Scholars.

Descriptions of the 11 supported projects at Canadian universities are on the QES website.

The Queen Elizabeth Scholars program was created in 2014 to improve global talent exchange between Canada and other nations. The program aims to develop the next generation of innovative leaders and community builders by providing enriched academic, professional and cross-cultural experiences and by facilitating lasting local and global community engagement.

QES is a collaborative initiative led by the Rideau Hall Foundation and Universities Canada. The International Development Research Centre first invested in 2016, with $10 million for a new component supporting advanced scholars (AS) along with $2.5 million from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. Earlier this year, to coincide with the Centre’s 50th anniversary, IDRC invested a further $3.5 million to expand the QES-AS program to support doctoral researchers, post-doctoral fellows and early career researchers from eligible West African countries and Canada.

Since its inception, the QES program has offered more than 2,200 scholarships, engaged 44 Canadian universities in every Canadian province, and involved activities in more than 70 countries to build a community of young leaders through a global exchange of talent between Canada and other nations.

 

QUOTES:

“As a 50-year-old Canadian organization with longstanding connections in West Africa, IDRC believes this new investment in the QE-AS program will increase opportunities for young researchers in the region as well as provide Canadian researchers with experience in the global environment. IDRC’s partnership with the Rideau Hall Foundation and Universities Canada bodes well for a lasting legacy of closer academic ties between Canada and West Africa.”

Jean Lebel, president of the International Development Research Centre

 

“The QES program has continued to move forward with these new opportunities for the benefit of our global scholars and researchers, despite the disruptions caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Through QES, we are supporting the next generation of world leaders with a particularly Canadian perspective by focusing on the pillars of leadership development and community engagement.”

Teresa Marques, president and CEO of the Rideau Hall Foundation

 

“2020 has demonstrated that global connections are more important than ever. QES scholars are the next generation of innovative leaders and community builders in Canada and around the world.

Through their applied research, creative leadership, and professional networking, these scholars will contribute to stronger economies and prosperous societies, and significantly enrich the knowledge base within their respective fields.”

Paul Davidson, president of Universities Canada

 

About IDRC

Part of Canada’s foreign affairs and development efforts, IDRC invests in knowledge, innovation, and solutions to improve the lives of people in the developing world. The research we support builds evidence to break the cycle of poverty, reduce inequalities and vulnerabilities, and help people live healthier and more sustainable lives. Learn more at www.idrc.ca.

Media contact: Morgan Waters, mwaters@idrc.ca

About Rideau Hall Foundation

The Rideau Hall Foundation is an independent and non-political charitable organization established to mobilize ideas, people, and resources across the country to tap into our national spirit and help realize our shared aspirations. Learn more at www.rhf-frh.ca.

Media contact: Mélanie Béchard, melanie.bechard@rhf-frh.ca

 

About Universities Canada

Universities Canada is the voice of Canada’s universities at home and abroad, advancing higher education, research and innovation for the benefit of all Canadians. Learn more at www.univcan.ca.

Media contact: Brenna Baggs, bbaggs@univcan.ca

Fifth Call for Proposals Launched

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Following four very successful Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships program (QES) calls for proposals through which 95 projects managed by 44 Canadian universities have been funded, Universities Canada is pleased to announce a fifth call.

QES Advanced Scholars – West Africa

Thanks to the generous financial support from the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), up to $3 million CAD will be allocated via the expansion of the QES Advanced Scholars program, which will support doctoral researchers, post-doctoral fellows and early career researchers from eligible West African countries and Canada.

This call will support projects contributing to advance the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with preference given to proposals that focus on or clearly integrate SDG 5 (gender equality) as a crosscutting or mainstream goal. QES-AS West Africa projects will focus on one or more of the following areas: climate resilience and sustainable food systems; education and innovation systems; ethics in development research; health equity; inclusive governance; and sustainable inclusive growth.

The program will require all scholars to participate in leadership development and community engagement activities and in the network of Queen Elizabeth Scholars.

More information is available here.

Scholars discuss value of international research collaboration

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Three Queen Elizabeth Scholars were recently interviewed on the podcast Beyond Canada: International Thought and Scholarship. The podcast “aims to talk to graduate students and professionals at Queen’s University in Kingston who are conducting research, work, and/or scholarship outside of Canada. Not only will this podcast delve into the details of their research and their own personal journeys, it will also discuss some of the challenges and opportunities that arise when doing international research.”

Queen Elizabeth Scholars Nuworza Kugbey, Phidelia Doegah, and Ryenchindorj Erkhembayar, who all recently completed their PhDs, talk about how international research collaboration has enriched their work and careers.

Listen to the episode here.

2019 QES Call for Proposals is now open

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Following very successful Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships (QES) program calls for proposals in 2014, 2016 and 2017, Universities Canada and the Rideau Hall Foundation are pleased to announce a fourth call for proposals.

2019 Competition

Thanks to funding provided by The Waugh Family Foundation, QES 2019 will support projects in Latin America and the Caribbean that focus on education, social services and health. Canadian universities are invited to submit multi-year project proposals seeking funding of up to $300 thousand CAD. Each Canadian university may submit one proposal to the 2019 competition. Up to $1,800,000 CAD is available through this competition.

Projects will support international internships for Canadian students and/or scholarships for incoming international graduate students. The program will require all scholars to participate in leadership development and community engagement activities and in the network of Queen Elizabeth Scholars.

Learn more about the project criteria and the application process here.