Twenty graduate students from Nova Scotia will be research interns for local businesses thanks to funding announced Thursday.

 

Doctoral student Ashley George said the $400,000 Accelerate Nova Scotia program would help give him that little bit extra.

 

“It’s fantastic,” the Dalhousie University computer science student said at the announcement in Halifax. “It supplements your regular funding from the university, so it’s above and beyond what you would normally get as a graduate student. I can’t complain.”

 

But George, in the middle of an eight-month internship, said other students are still scraping by.

 

“I think I’m a special case. I think most students do live paycheque to paycheque, and that’s just the nature of graduate funding. I guess you sacrifice a lot for a career in science.”

The program will give 20 students a minimum of $10,000 per four-month internship. It is cost-shared by the province, the federal government and industry.

Arvind Gupta, scientific director at British Columbia's Simon Fraser University, said his students often leave the province or the country after they graduate because there aren’t enough financial incentives here.

“For me this is one the saddest things that happens,” he said. “My students will get a degree and then often leave. They’ll come into my office and be like, ‘I’ve got this great opportunity from a company in California.’”

Gupta hopes the new funding will encourage them to stay in Nova Scotia, or at least Canada. He said it will also help in less obvious ways.

“I had a young woman say to me that when she went to do an internship she had to buy different clothes,” he said. “So students have extra costs when they do these internships. It helps compensate them for that.”

Education Minister Marilyn More said the funding would also help businesses.

“It’s going to allow them to access the skills and knowledge and expertise of graduate students and post-doc students,” More said.