Scholarship dollarship

The mystery deepens. In my last post I pointed out that, if the Brits are cutting Commonwealth Scholarships for Canadians, Canada can hardly complain, having cut Commonwealth Scholarships for Brits in 2006. But then the ball takes an interesting bounce, and I’d be grateful for the help of you Inkless Irregulars — especially the access-to-education division, Rob and Alex and others — in helping me follow where it landed.

Recall (or just read the post below) that the feds cut some hefty sum from international-level scholarships in 2006. John Baird’s reasoning, if I may use that term, was that scholarships are a provincial responsibility.

Now. Flash forward to March of this year, when Jim Flaherty’s budget, written off by all observers as boring (my rebuttal: there is no boring way to spend $200 billion), included substantial allocations for scholarships. As I noted, the money essentially amounted to a decision to perpetuate Jean Chrétien’s Millennium Scholarship Foundation, which was designed to run down in a decade, although Flaherty rings important variations on the program design, so it’s all a bit apples and oranges.

But note the Vanier Scholarships. Five hundred a year, high-value prizes, available to both Canadians who want to study abroad and foreginers who want to study in Canada. As our Erin Millar pointed out at the time, the budget for the Vanier thingies is $25 million over two years.

There’s so much money sloshing around here that it’s not easy to see clearly. On the face of it, it looks to me like the new investment more than compensates for the old cuts — that the Harper government is a late-blooming but, finally, fairly generous convert to the idea that there’s a federal role in rewarding merit, building Canadian brains and wooing smart foreigners.

I’d be grateful for smart, informed confirmation or rebuttal of that impression. Use the comments or send me an email. Thanks.

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