The College of Agriculture and Bioresources at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) has launched a new program to support graduate students who become parents.
The graduate parental leave program provides eligible students with $1,500/month for four months. The new program acknowledges the challenges associated with balancing the demands of caring for a new child while enrolled in a graduate program.
At USask, graduate students may be granted a parental leave from their program. Only under certain circumstances do students continue to receive financial support while on a parental leave. In many cases, students on leave do not receive stipends, scholarships or bursaries that help cover fees and living expenses. AgBio’s new graduate parental leave program is intended to support those students whose funding has been discontinued while on an approved parental leave.
Bruna Franco, a PhD candidate in animal science, is the first student to take advantage of this new program. She welcomed her second child, Noah in May 2021.
“Taking a parental leave, in my opinion, is essential for both the mom and the baby, and has countless benefits, but unfortunately, during parental leave we can’t receive our usual graduate student stipend,” said Franco. “With a new baby, expenses increase and the graduate parental leave program provides financial support while caring for the baby. This allows our family to obtain all the benefits of parental leave.”
Once her parental leave is complete, Franco will return to her studies to complete her PhD thesis, The influence of wavelength on production, physiology and behaviour of broiler chickens. She is one of many students who is balancing parenthood with her studies. In 2020, 1,508 of the nearly 26,000 USask students self-reported that they were caregivers for a child. It is noteworthy that these are self-reported statistics, and the total number of student parents is likely much greater.
“The College of Agriculture and Bioresources is committed to the success of our graduate students, including helping students to achieve personal and professional goals outside of their academic programs,” said Dr. Trever Crowe (PhD), associate dean, research and graduate studies. “Starting a family often coincides with registration in a graduate program, and this funding is intended to help students maintain a balance between personal and academic pursuits.”
More information about the graduate parental leave program is available on the AgBio website.