The Fonds de recherche du Québec (FRQ) are a vital and dynamic player in the research ecosystem of the province. FRQ’s three disciplinary funding agencies – Société et culture (Society and Culture, FRQSC), Nature et technologies (Nature and Technologies, FRQNT), and Santé (Health, FRQS) – were founded to support research excellence and the development of the next generation of researchers.
For many McGill graduate students, the FRQ is an important source of support. In fact, the Fonds are one of the few funding opportunities available to Quebec, out-of-province, and international students alike. Starting this year, all students admitted to a Master’s or PhD program at a Quebec university are eligible to apply for FRQ graduate funding during their first term.
The FRQ: A leader in graduate funding
The FRQ’s importance has been solidified with the exciting announcement from the Quebec government of an additional $10 million over five years earmarked for scholarships. Thanks to this investment, the value of all FRQ graduate scholarships has increased from $17, 500 to $20,000/year for Master’s awards (for up to two years) and from $21,000 to $25,000/year for doctoral awards (for up to four years), an increase given to all current awardees. These changes put the FRQ on the cutting edge of graduate research support in the Canadian context, as advocated in a brief submitted to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Science and Research by McGill’s Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (GPS).
McGill graduate students have been exceptionally successful in FRQ competitions, with success rates growing year over year. In the 2021-2022 competition, McGill students received over $14 million in funding from the FRQ. In the 2022-2023 competition, McGill doctoral students obtained 44 per cent of FRQNT awards, 45 per cent of FRQS awards and 25 per cent of FRQSC awards.
When asked about these impressive numbers, Associate Provost (Graduate Education) and Dean of GPS, Josephine Nalbantoglu, PhD, points to the excellence of McGill graduate students, and the many initiatives from across the University that help graduate students craft clear and compelling applications.
“The ability to pitch ideas in a convincing manner and to underline the impact of their research is an important skill for every student to have”, says Nalbantoglu. “Funding agencies want to support work that contributes to the advancement of knowledge in a meaningful way.”
At McGill, graduate students learn essential skills for written and oral communication from Graphos workshops and Skillsets professional development opportunities. They also gain tips and tricks for successful fellowship applications from a series of competition-specific workshops delivered by GPS.
Building a future in Quebec
With the solid support for researchers from Quebec institutions like the FRQ, it’s no surprise that many students wish to remain in Quebec after graduation. To facilitate this, and in response to student demand, GPS has launched a pilot project offering free French courses to FRQ doctoral recipients.
Not only does this make McGill students more employable, increased knowledge of French also means more opportunity for collaboration with researchers at Francophone universities around the globe and here at home.
“It has been exciting to see the level of interest for French courses among our pilot group”, says Nalbantoglu. “I look forward to catching up with them at the end of the term – en français, bien sûr.