Memorandum: 2015-2016 Vanier CGS Competition Launch

To: Deans and Associate Deans of Graduate Studies
Vice-Presidents and Associate Vice-Presidents (Research)

C.C.: Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships Institution Contacts
Institution Scholarships Liaison Officers
Institution Research Grants Officers
Danika Goosney, Director, Research and Knowledge Translation Portfolio and Executive Director, Vanier-Banting Secretariat
Serge Villemure, Director, Scholarships and Fellowships Programs, NSERC
Jean-François Fortin, Director, Research Training Portfolio, SSHRC

From: Julie Conrad, Manager, Vanier-Banting Secretariat

Date: June 17, 2015

Subject: 2015-2016 Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships (Vanier CGS) and competition update

Please distribute to all parties at your institution who would benefit from this information.

The 2015-2016 Vanier CGS competition has been launched! This memo is to inform you of program news for this competition.

I) 2015-2016 Vanier CGS Competition Timelines

Please find below important competition timelines:

2015-16 Vanier CGS Competition Timelines
Competition Launch June 17, 2015: Posting of updated program literature on program website, including application guide
June 17, 2015: Activation of ResearchNet (electronic application system)
Application Deadline November 4, 2015 (8:00 pm ET)
Funding Decision Release March 31, 2016

II) Vanier CGS program news (summary of important changes are provided in Appendix 1)

A. New – Important changes to Institutional Quotas for 2015-16 to 2017-18

In an effort to enable the Vanier CGS program to better meet its objective of attracting and recruiting world-class doctoral students to Canadian institutions, the agencies have now implemented equal annual targets within the existing three year allocation period with restrictions placed on carrying forward unused quotas. As a result, the following changes to the quota distribution have been made:

  1. All Canadian institutions are provided a yearly quota within the existing three year quota allotment.
  2. Any unused annual quotas will not be carried forward for future years.
  3. Floating quotas can be used in either of the three years.

Please refer to memo sent out on May 15, 2015 in regards to the Institutional Quotas for 2015-16 to 2017-18 Vanier CGS competition.

B. New – Important changes to the nomination letter

In our continuous efforts to improve and simplify the nomination and review processes, an important change is being implemented in this competition:

Nomination Letter:  the nomination letter must now be completed and signed by the Department Head nominating the candidate instead of the institution.

C. New – Important changes to mobility and choice of nominating Institution

To help students benefit from diverse experiences and research environments, we encourage you to support the mobility of all nominees to pursue their doctoral studies at institutions different than those where they completed a previous degree. Nominees who chose a nominating institution which is the same as the institution where they completed their previous degree(s) must provide a strong justification for this exceptional circumstance which will be assessed as part of the selection committee review process under Special Circumstances. The more similar the proposed research environment is to that of the previous degree environment, the stronger the required justification.

In the Nomination Letter, the Department Head is required to provide justification for the lack of mobility and an explanation as to why it is in the candidate’s best interest to stay at the same institution. This will include further elaboration on the appropriateness of the supervisor in terms of resources, funding, publications, their research and training environment.  Examples may include (but not limited to) funding, facilities/resources and personnel that will be available to support the candidate as they carry out their proposed research and develop their leadership potential

In the Research proposal:  Candidates must now describe the incremental benefit conferred by undertaking their research at the nominating institution (e.g. supervisor/departmental specialization, lab facilities, funding opportunities, support structures offered/in-place), as well any benefit their research proposal will bring to the Canadian nominating institution if awarded a Vanier CGS (e.g., role model, networking, etc.).

D. New Important changes to the scoring process

To continue our commitment to fund only the most meritorious of doctoral candidates, we have instituted a minimum threshold score for funding. In order to be considered fundable, all candidates must achieve a score of at least 3.1 in each individual criterion.

E. Update - Website

The Vanier CGS website has undergone major changes. This was done in order to facilitate finding information and to clarify requirements from the different parties involved.

III. Vanier CGS program reminders

A. Reminder - Internal deadline at institution

It is strongly recommended that institutions adjust the internal deadline date in Research Net for the Vanier CGS competition in order to allow enough time for the internal review of nominations. Currently, the internal deadline date is the same as the final submission deadline for the Vanier CGS competition.

Instructions can be found in the Electronic Approval for Research Institutions- Administrator’s Guide attached. Institutions are also recommended to update the ResearchNet Electronic Approval Tool Users to avoid any further delays to the submission of nominations.

B. Reminder - Institutional endorsement: selectivity and diversity

With the competitive nature of the program in mind, we would like to remind you to continue to be highly selective in your endorsement of nominations. In this way we can work together to control the quality of candidates to help ensure that the program is indeed supporting world-class doctoral scholars who will become the research leaders of tomorrow and without adding undue strain on the review system.

In the endorsement process, institutions are reminded that proposals from all research areas and in both official languages are encouraged. In addition, gender equity is important in the endorsement process.

C. Reminder - International recruitment

In keeping with the aim of attracting doctoral students to Canada, we encourage you to continue to strengthen your efforts to recruit new foreign doctoral students to your respective institutions. Your collaboration is essential in achieving the goal of building strong brand recognition for the Vanier CGS program as the world’s most valuable, prestigious and sought-after doctoral scholarship. By attracting international candidates to Canadian institutions, we will enrich our campuses now and into the future.

D. Reminder — Adjudication and funding: agency mandate

The proposed research project must be eligible within the mandate of the federal granting agency selected in the nomination. If in doubt, candidates and institutions should consult with the Vanier-Banting Secretariat in advance of submitting the application.

Guidelines related to agency mandates are available on the following website

E. Reminder —The granting agencies’ obligations under the Official Languages Act

Under the Official Languages Act, federal institutions, including CIHR, NSERC and SSHRC, must ensure respect for the rights of individual Canadians to receive services from federal institutions and organizations that provide services on their behalf, in the official language of their choice.

As partners in the co-delivery of the Vanier CGS program, institutions must respect the Official Languages Act in the management of their internal selection processes. For the full text of the Official Languages Act, please visit website.

For any questions, please contact the Vanier-Banting Secretariat at

Appendix 1

Summary of main changes the program website for the 2015-16 Vanier CGS competition:

Changes URL
A. All Canadian institutions are provided a yearly quota within the existing three year quota allotment.
B. Nomination letters - must come be completed and signed by the Department Head nominating the candidate.
New elements to be address by Department Head:
  1. Appropriateness of supervisor and research/training environment;
  2. Research interests/background of the student and supervisor align with the institution’s priorities;
  3. Articulate how the candidate will benefit from being a Vanier CGS awardee;
C. Mobility and choice of nominating Institution. Research proposal – updated elements to address, including rationale for selecting the nominating institution and supervisor (if applicable)
D. Minimum threshold score for funding is 3.1 for each individual criterion
E. Updated Vanier CGS website
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