Being a graduate student can be quite challenging, both academically and socially, especially at the start of a new school year. Therefore, it is important as a graduate student to be aware not only of the services available to aid in the smooth running of your academic life but also of upcoming events that can help you relax and network with fellow graduate students. The University of Manitoba Graduate Students’ Association (UMGSA) and the International Centre for Students (ICS) are the major entities involved in the organization of these events and services.
U of M Graduate Students’ Association (UMGSA)
The UMGSA, the student body that represents graduate students at the university, supports graduate students by providing several scholarships, awards, and grants. Two of these which can be personally applied for by graduate students are the UMGSA student award and the conference grant. The UMGSA student awards are one-time awards given yearly to graduate students who aren’t recipients of any other major funding. Therefore, graduate students who are without major funding like the University of Manitoba Graduate Fellowship (UMGF) and other national awards are encouraged to apply. Application forms for the 2016-17 UMGSA student awards are downloadable in PDF format from the UMGSA website.
UMGSA conference grants are available to graduate students who are presenting at or simply attending academic conferences. Since conferences are avenues for graduate students to learn more about their field and network with other scholars, it is important to take advantage of this conference grant made available by the UMGSA. The application form is downloadable from the UMGSA website, and conference grants are disbursed monthly. Applications are to be submitted no later than four months after the conference, and documents that show evidence of travel expenses (flight, car rental or train tickets), accommodation receipts, conference registration documents, and proof of attendance at the conference are to be attached to the application form. Each graduate student is entitled to a maximum of $750 in conference grants per year.
Another important service for graduate students is the health and dental plan. All full-time students are automatically members of this plan, and are assessed the fees when they register for their graduate program. Many people tend to forget or just not care about this plan, but it is important to use it since you’re already paying for it. The health plan covers a variety of benefits like prescription drugs, vision care, massage therapy, and psychologist visits. The dental benefits totally cover basic services like teeth cleaning and polishing, and partially cover restorative and major restorative services. The health plan also includes travel coverage for up to 120 days. Given these astounding benefits are encapsulated by a plan that costs $292 annually, graduate students will do themselves a great disservice by not taking advantage of this plan to its fullest. Making claims is also made extremely easy with the student care mobile app, and students are reimbursed via direct deposit.
The UMGSA also provides many more services large and small, such as printing services to graduate students at its office at subsidized rates. This goes a long way in saving money. All of the services provided by the UMGSA are governed by graduate students, for graduate students, so it is only reasonable to avail yourself of these services while you can.
International Centre for Students (ICS)
The ICS renders services to all students of the university, not just international students, as its name may lead one to believe. Some of the services provided by the ICS include a series of orientation programs for new international students, essential information needed by students in seeking permits and visas, and advice on how to navigate the new educational environment. The weekly ICS newsletter also supplies useful information on important subjects like ICS programs and events, changes to immigration regulations, opportunities for students to travel, intern, or study abroad, student group activities, and announcements on upcoming programs and events throughout the university. These ICS programs ICS are very helpful for international graduate students both before and after their arrival in Canada.
The ICS also provides students (whether international or not) with opportunities to study or work both inside and outside of Canada. Through these events and services, graduate students have the opportunity to gain more international and cross-cultural exposure. For instance, the World W.I.S.E. Resource Centre helps students plan for work, study, or travel abroad. Furthermore, various exchange programs that provide accessible and affordable options to study abroad are available for all graduate students to take advantage of.
Social events are an essential part of student life, and even more so for graduate student life. They are effective means of not only relaxing from the hectic workload of school, but also networking and meeting fellow graduate students. The UMGSA organizes events for graduate students around the year. Some of the events the UMGSA have planned for the fall 2016 term, according to vice-president marketing & events Md Waliullah, include:
- Halloween Social – Oct. 27: This is the Halloween social for graduate students, and you can attend either in costume or not.
- Movie Night – Nov. 25: The annual UMGSA movie night serves as a fun break from the cold weather and lead up to finals for graduate students.
- Holiday Social – Dec. 16: This is a social for graduate students to celebrate the end of the fall term.
As a graduate student, new and returning alike, please take advantage of all of these services and events that have been made available to you throughout the school year.
I’m wishing everyone a great session ahead!