Sun. Jul 14th, 2024

No evidence that Perspective scholarships are effective

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Mar21,2024

Nearly $400 million has already been spent over the past two years on scholarships offered to students enrolled in programs that lead to sectors with labor shortages . However, at the University of Montreal, the number of applications in the programs targeted by these supposedly incentive scholarships is nevertheless decreasing.

No evidence that Perspective scholarships are effective

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All teaching programs eligible for Perspective Québec scholarships at the University of Montreal are experiencing decreases in admission applications.< /p>

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The rector of the University of Montreal, Daniel Jutras, throws a wrench into the pond and questions the relevance and effectiveness of the Perspective Québec (PBPQ) scholarship program, one of the Legault government's flagship measures to remedy the lack of workforce in certain key sectors of the economy.

Remember that this program was announced in the fall of 2021 in the context of Operation Workforce (OPMO). It allows all students registered in one of the targeted study programs to receive, for each full-time session successfully completed, a scholarship of $1,500 at CEGEP and $2,500 at university.

The programs in question lead to employment in the fields of teaching, early childhood education, engineering, information technology or health as well as social services.

It was anticipated from its inception that this scholarship program would cost the Ministry of Higher Education $1.7 billion over five years, which represents a significant portion of the $3.9 billion investment planned for the whole of the OPMO.

The Perspective Québec scholarship program had a bumpy start, to say the least, but the distribution of scholarships nevertheless began smoothly at winter 2023.

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Since then, 189,000 scholarships have been awarded, for a total of $394 million distributed.

In an interview with Radio-Canada, the rector of the University of Montreal is critical of this program, two years after its launch.

It's still a huge envelope and I don't know if it has been used to its maximum.

A quote from Daniel Jutras, rector of the University of Montreal

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The rector of the University of Montreal, Daniel Jutras, addressed several subjects, including university funding and scientific research, during an editorial table with Radio-Canada. (Archive photo)

The University of Montreal is one of the educational institutions that receives the most students eligible for the Perspective scholarship program Quebec with 30 eligible programs in three of the four targeted sectors at the university level.

The investment must produce registration that we would not have or perseverance [in studies] that we would not have. But the causal link is not clear, explains Daniel Jutras, rather skeptical about the effectiveness of these grants.

In the fall, following an analysis based on the number of registrations for the programs concerned, the University had in fact painted an initial very nuanced portrait of the impacts of the Perspective Québec scholarships.

For example, we noticed an increase in registrations in criminology and mathematics-computer science. There was also an increase in social work, but this was attributable to an increase in reception capacity. On the other hand, there were declines in new enrollees in programs in psychology, computer science, nursing, psychoeducation and educational sciences.

Moreover, in light of the data transmitted by the Admission and Recruitment Service of the University of Montreal with regard to the last wave of admission applications for fall 2024, the situation is hardly more rosy.

Program Fall 2021 Fall 2023 Fall 2024 Variation from 2023 to 2024 Variation from 2021 to 2024
Education (9 programs) 1984 1722 1349
Health and social services (9 programs) 4352 4077 3601
Information Technology (4 programs) 818 938 737
Total 6641 6276 5402

Only students eligible for Perspective Québec scholarships are included in this data, that is to say, they are excludes foreign students and those who have indicated that they wish to study part-time.

Source: Admission and recruitment service of the University of Montreal

If we look at the number of people who have applied for admission to at least one of the programs eligible for the Perspective Québec scholarships, we observe a drop of 19% between 2021 – before the arrival of the program – and 2024, as well as 'a decrease of 14% in the last year.

The decline is particularly marked in education programs, including the bachelor's degree in preschool education and primary education, and in certain health and social services programs, such as the bachelor's degrees in criminology and psychoeducation.

If one of the objectives of the scholarship program is to attract students in these disciplines [targeted by the Perspective scholarships], it is clear that in light of the application statistics admissions for the fall terms of recent years, it does not go without saying that this objective has been achieved, writes Geneviève O'Meara, spokesperson for the University of Montreal.

The decline observed in these programs is similar to that observed in all other baccalaureate programs at the University.

Rector Daniel Jutras also criticizes the lack of modulation of the amount granted according to the financial capabilities or profile of the students. This is not the same reality in engineering or computer science, where there are many paid internships. This element, I think, had been misjudged, he continues.

I have the feeling that this measure would have been better adapted if we had taken into account the financial needs of students rather than having a lump sum distributed to all students in all these disciplines.

A quote from Daniel Jutras , rector of the University of Montreal

Mr. Jutras, who is also president of the Interuniversity Coordination Office (BCI), deplores the fact that the university community was not consulted in a structured manner upstream, during the reflection concerning the creation of these scholarships.

He understands that there are labor needs and that certain incentive measures could be a good way to partially remedy this, but he nevertheless criticizes the utilitarian approach adopted. The choice to target certain sectors, I think, may last for a while, but it must not settle, he emphasizes.

Radio-Canada attempted to obtain the documents and internal analyzes carried out at the Ministry of Higher Education (MES) to date to evaluate the effectiveness of the Perspective Québec scholarship program.

However, the response received from the Ministry referred us to documents already made public almost a year ago following access requests. He also refused to send us certain documents identified in connection with our request, on the grounds that they are part of an ongoing decision-making process or that they were produced for the Minister of Higher Education, Pascale Déry.

The MES, however, sent us data on the number of scholarships distributed, which shows an increase in the number of beneficiaries. Approximately 61,600 students received this financial aid for the fall 2022 session, while more than 66,000 received it for the fall 2023 session.

The number of beneficiaries remained significantly stable in programs related to teaching and childhood education, but it increased in engineering (+1100), health and social services (+1000) as well as ;in information technology (+1600).

However, it is important to specify that students must apply online to receive this scholarship : it is not paid to them automatically.

At the time of writing these lines, Radio-Canada was still awaiting a response from cabinet of Minister Déry in relation to the content of this report.

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Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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