Guide to Managing Award Holders in Canada (Development Stream) - Chapter 3

October 2016

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Table of Contents

3 Administering and Evaluating an Award Program

3.1 Preparing for a Stay in Canada

In some countries, pre-departure briefings may be offered to Global Affairs Canada award holders in the field. It is up to the EA to make the appropriate inquiries with the project officer responsible for the program within the Department.

For briefings in Canada, the EA must communicate with the Centre for Intercultural Learning (CIL) at the Department.

To help award holders adapt to academic, professional, cultural and social life in Canada, the CIL has developed the following sessions:

  • Orientation session upon arrival
  • Mid-term follow-up session
  • End-of-stay session

The orientation session upon arrival in Canada is mandatory in some cases because it provides award holders with all the information they may need to get settled and adapt quickly to their new life. This orientation session must cover topics such as the characteristics of Canadian culture, interculturalism, finding an apartment, signing a rental lease, managing a budget, opening a bank account and accessing health care services. The EA informs award holders of the mandatory sessions they must attend. The EA can also sign an agreement with the educational institution’s international student office. This option allows award holders to meet other foreign students quickly.

3.1.1 Arrival in Canada

The date of the award holder’s arrival in Canada depends on the start date of the course or practicum. The EA must ensure that the award holder arrives a few days before so that he or she can make arrangements for the stay in Canada and settle in before training starts. The amount of time between the award holder’s arrival in Canada and the start of the training must be reasonable and relative to the duration of the training program. For example, if the award holder is enrolled in an academic program that runs at least several months, the EA must plan an arrival at least two weeks before the course start date.

3.2 Guidance of Award Holder

The EA must guide the award holder throughout the training program. This entails not only arranging the award holder’s stay, but also being available to meet his psycho-social, academic and professional needs. To do this, the EA must remain in fairly­ close contact with the award holder, especially during the first year of his stay in Canada. In addition, the EA must regularly meet with the award holder to answer any questions, ensure that his adaptation to the country is going well, and keep track of his performance. However, if an award holder starts showing clear signs of psychological, academic or professional difficulties, the EA must inform the Department and refer the award holder to the appropriate human or institutional resources to help him overcome these challenges. It is crucial for the EA to work in cooperation with the various parties connected to the award holder for a successful outcome.

3.2.1 International student office in universities

The international student office is typically responsible for welcoming, guiding and overseeing foreign students. The head of the international student office is the main point of contact for student award holders during their stay in Canada. Following an agreement with the EA, it can put the award holder in touch with other foreign students to make adaptation to the country easier. The EA may reach an agreement with the educational institution to entrust the international student office with certain aspects of administering the award program.

3.3 Reception and Settlement of Award Holder

It is important for the award holder to be met by an EA representative when he arrives at the airport. However, educational institutions may themselves send someone to meet their students at the airport. If that is the case, the EA should coordinate with the institution so that there is no unnecessary duplication.

Once the award holder has arrived, he should be informed of what has been arranged for his stay in Canada, particularly with respect to temporary accommodations and payment of an advance.

3.3.1 Accommodations

Before award holders arrive in Canada, the EA must find temporary accommodations, for example, in a hotel, in a community organization or in a private home. While award holders should not be left to find their own accommodations upon arrival, some award holders may choose to make their own arrangements. Depending on the length of stay, the EA must help award holders to find a place to live based on their needs and budget. Once a place has been found, payment is made directly by the award holder from the allowance received from the EA. Rental insurance with third-party liability should also be recommended to award holders.

Depending on the length of stay, the EA must locate the type of accommodation best suited to the budget allocated by the Department. Award holders taking a short-term training program can stay at a hotel for a few weeks, but it is more economical to rent a furnished apartment if they are staying in Canada for several months. If the stay is very short, award holders should only have to manage the funds allocated for meals, local transportation and incidentals.

When it comes to renting an apartment, award holders may not necessarily be familiar with signing a lease, which is a contractual act. Therefore, the EA should provide them with all necessary and useful information clarifying their rights and obligations.

For student residences, it is the EA’s responsibility to provide award holders with all the relevant information about the availability of such accommodations, as this varies from one educational institution to another.

3.3.2 Finances

The EA must help award holders manage their finances when necessary. Although some financial aspects are covered during the orientation session upon arrival, the EA must nonetheless provide award holders with assistance, particularly by acting as an advisor and developing tools that they can use.

3.3.3 Health care

The EA must explain to award holders how public and private health care works, that is, how to access emergency services, how to get in to see a physician for routine visits, how to obtain referrals to a specialist and so on. The EA must also explain the types of treatments not covered by the health care plan that award holders are offered.

3.3.4 Integration activities

Under a Global Affairs Canada award program, each award holder is encouraged to build ties with other students or professionals to make his integration easier. Each award holder should also find out about socio-cultural activities, sports and other activities to which he might have access in the educational institution. The EA should, to the extent possible, make the most of the award holder’s stay in Canada to put him in touch with professional circles in the relevant field of study. This might help the award holder create long-lasting collaborative relationships with Canadian businesses and might ultimately benefit the recipient country.

3.3.5 Student services

Student services in educational institutions are typically available to answer students’ general questions or to refer them to the appropriate academic services where required. This office is also normally responsible for issuing student IDs and can provide students with information on the various terms and conditions related to the IDs. Students enrolled in an educational institution must obtain a student ID so that they can participate in student activities and sometimes benefit from certain advantages. The ID is renewable annually and is required to borrow books from the library, obtain an access code for school computers and participate in mid-term and final exams.

3.4 Academic Information

3.4.1 Academic calendar

In Canada, the academic year is typically divided into three periods called sessions. Each session is independent from the others and represents a complete period of study. These sessions are spread over the year according to the following schedule:

  • Fall session: late August or early September to late December
  • Winter session: early January to late April
  • Summer session: early May to late June, early July to late August, or May to August

Summer sessions are sometimes called “intensive” because the pace of the courses is accelerated. For example, there may be two classes per week instead of one.

In addition, each academic program consists of credits. For example, to complete a master’s degree, a student must typically earn 45 credits; each course is worth about three (3) credits.

3.4.2 Academic results

Depending on the educational institution, the results of academic work can be marked in either percentages or letters, generally from A to E (where A+ is the highest mark and E is a fail). It is up to the student to inquire upon his arrival about the academic performance requirements for his program. In addition, it is important to know that academic results are transmitted by way of a transcript to the student and to the EA at the end of each session. A transcript shows students the average grades for each course so that they can compare their results against the average for other students.

Students pass a course when they obtain the minimum grade established by the university for all course assignments and exams. Results below the university’s pass mark are a fail.

Each transcript also indicates the student’s cumulative grade point average, that is, the average for all the courses taken. If this average is below program or university requirements, the student may be withdrawn from the program and be required to return to his country earlier than expected.

3.4.3 Exclusion from an academic program

Although this may vary from one educational institution to another, a student is typically excluded from the academic program in one of the following situations:

  • If the student does not obtain the minimum grade point average established by the university in his prerequisite, refresher or regular courses, even after writing exams or completing make-up assignments;
  • If the student fails more than one prerequisite or refresher course, worth less than 10 credits combined, or more than two prerequisite or refresher courses, worth 10 or more credits combined;
  • If the student fails more than two regular program courses;
  • If the student is found guilty of plagiarism or cheating.

3.4.4 Course registration

Course registration is the administrative step after admission. The registration dates for each session appear in the administrative calendar of the award holder’s educational institution. The award holder is the sole person responsible for registering for courses. Since some courses have limited capacity, students are strongly encouraged to pick their courses at the beginning of each registration period. Students must also ensure they receive confirmation of their registration for each session from their educational institution. Issued by the institution’s registrar, the confirmation shows the selected courses along with their time and location.

3.4.5 Course or practicum selection

In the Canadian educational system, each training program offers core and elective courses. Courses should be selected based on program requirements, training objectives and the time allotted for obtaining the degree (master’s, PhD, post-doctorate, etc.). The EA must therefore supervise students to make sure their course choices meet these requirements. For the first year only, students should take on a lighter course load so that they are able to adapt to the pace of Canadian studies. However, they must keep their “full-time” student status during their entire stay in Canada. In addition, students should carefully read each course syllabus or outline and meet with professors as needed to inquire about their particular requirements and expectations.

Not all courses are offered during all sessions, and some courses must be taken in the order established by the program director. Some courses are prerequisites for other courses.

For trainees who are taking a vocational or technical skills training program, the EA should also assist them in selecting their practicum or workplace, jointly with the practicum supervisor, if applicable.

3.4.6 Course timetable or practicum schedule

In most programs of study, the range of courses offered gives students enough flexibility to choose courses at the times of day or on the days of the week that suit them best. However, students must avoid conflicts in their class or exam timetables.

The practicum schedule depends on the organization offering it.

3.4.7 Course changes

In some cases, a change in the choice of institution, program or course may be necessary. For these changes, award holders must obtain approval from the EA, which in turn must obtain authorization from the recipient government (or home institution) and the Global Affairs Canada project officer.

Training given to students under the terms of the agreement between their government and the Government of Canada is intended to meet development objectives based on the needs of their country. Students must therefore not change the training program structure for personal reasons.
Exceptions to this principle may be considered, especially if the proposed changes better meet the objectives of the agreement between the two countries. However, the length and cost of the program must not be changed under any circumstances.

Students who want to change or drop one of their courses must find out from their educational institution what procedures they must follow and what deadlines they must meet. This information is typically published on the institution’s website or may be provided by student services.

3.4.8 Choice of research topics

When a student must choose a topic for his research, major assignment, paper or thesis, the EA must ensure that this topic is in line with the objective of the student’s training program, or is related to a national issue in the recipient country. The EA must always bear in mind that the student comes from a country benefiting from an award program to meet its development needs, rather than the personal development needs of the student.

3.4.9 Full-time student status

To meet IRCC requirements for a stay in Canada, Global Affairs Canada students must be registered in an academic program full time throughout their stay in Canada. They must therefore register for the number of courses required by their educational institution to be considered full-time students. Although this number may vary from one institution and program to another, it is typically between two (2) and five (5) courses per session, or the equivalent of six (6) to fifteen (15) credits.

3.5 Participation in Summer Activities, Conventions, Conferences or Practicums

In preparation for the summer season, which typically runs from May to August, students must arrange their program of activities with the EA. The EA must then inform the Global Affairs Canada project officer of the planned activities.

There are many summer options to choose from, including:

  • Summer courses in Canada offered over a four-month period or an intensive two-month period;
  • A summer practicum in Canada or in the recipient country; or
  • Research activities (data collection, field research, etc.) in Canada or in the recipient country in preparation for a thesis, paper or major assignment.

The objectives of practicums and research activities must be defined very precisely by the student and the EA. Logistics and costs must also be established and approved by the Department before summer activities begin. In addition, if the practicum or research activities take place in the recipient country, they must be planned and organized well before the student’s departure from Canada, in collaboration with the government authorities­ of the recipient country as well as the various Canadian parties concerned.

More specifically, the conditions required by the Department for a practicum or research activities taking place in the recipient country are as follows:

  • The practicum or research activity must be related to the student’s training program;
  • The stay must last at least six (6) weeks;
  • Students must have completed at least one (1) year of their academic study program in Canada;
  • Students must have at least one (1) academic year left to complete in Canada; and
  • In the case of a practicum, students must prepare a report about the training, to be submitted to their home authorities (ministry, organization or other) before they return to Canada and to the EA and their educational institution after they return to Canada.

3.5.1 Participation in conventions or conferences

Award holders may ask the EA for permission to participate in conventions or conferences during their training program. However, award holders may not attend more than one (1) conference or convention per year. This entitlement is not cumulative and cannot be accumulated over two (2) or more years. The EA must approve the budget for such requests and have the request approved by the Department. Preference is given wherever possible to award holders who have been invited to present their research at such events. In addition, any requests for participation in a convention or conference held in the recipient country must be planned as part of a summer practicum or a research activity in order to be considered.

3.6 Paid Employment and Taxes

Students who want to work a part-time job can apply with IRCC for a work permit, but only in one of the following cases:

  • If the educational institution certifies the employment as an integral part of the student’s course of study, for example, a cooperative program;
  • If the student is a graduate assistant;
  • If the student wishes to work on campus at the educational institution; or
  • If the student is sponsored by the Department, and the employment is part of the program arranged by the Department.

Important: The award holder must first obtain authorization from the EA. Activities of any kind must not compromise the student’s full-time status or jeopardize his academic performance or length of stay in Canada.

Under the federal Income Tax Act and any other provincial legislation regarding income, all sources of income must be reported annually by each individual having earned taxable income. Every award holder earning taxable income must comply with this legislation and is responsible for paying the applicable taxes. The Department’s award is non-taxable.

3.7 Termination of the Award

The Department’s award typically ends when the award holder finishes the training program.

However, the Department’s award also ends in one of the following circumstances:

  • The award holder is excluded from the training program for poor academic or professional performance. The award holder cannot, as a last resort, change educational institutions or organizations because of poor academic or professional performance;
  • The award holder has accepted an award other than that offered by the Department;
  • The award holder failed to fulfill one of the obligations under the signed Training Agreement;
  • The award holder informed the EA in writing that he was leaving the training program or Canada before the expected date.

3.7.1 Award holder’s departure after award payment ends

If payment of the award ends for a reason other than the end of the training program, the EA must inform the Department, the recipient country’s government, IRCC, the home institution, the educational institution and the Canadian mission in the recipient country.

Although the Department and the EA may decide otherwise, as appropriate, the award holder must leave the country thirty (30) days after the final award payment is made, as set out in the Training Agreement, except where the study or work permit expires before that time.

Moreover, when payment of the award ends, so too does the award holder’s coverage under the health care insurance plan provided by the EA. The EA must therefore inform the insurance company of the departure date of the award holder so that his coverage may be terminated accordingly.

If the award holder does not comply with this deadline, the EA must immediately inform the Global Affairs Canada project officer, who will inform the government of the recipient country after looking into the situation. If this happens, the Department reserves the right not to cover any costs associated with the award holder’s eventual return or the costs of sending his personal effects.

Furthermore, if the award holder does not leave Canada definitively, legal action may be taken against him in order to recover the funds invested in the training program.

3.7.2 Official training program end date

An academic training program officially ends no later than one week after the end of the course (including exams) or acceptance of the thesis, paper or major assignment, or when the educational institution’s authorities indicate to the EA that the student has met all the requirements for the degree or diploma.

The vocational or technical skills training program officially ends, depending on the situation, one to several days after the last practicum activity.

3.8 Change in Training Program

The training program offered to award holders under the terms of the agreement between the recipient country government and the Government of Canada is intended to meet specific development objectives based on the needs of the recipient country. Award holders must therefore not change the training program structure for personal reasons. Exceptions to this principle may be considered in the following cases:

  • The proposed changes are more in line with the objectives of the agreement between the two countries;
  • The proposed changes would enable the award holder to significantly improve his academic or professional performance, while meeting the objectives of the agreement between the two countries.

Award holders who want to change programs must submit a request in writing to the EA explaining the reasons why. The EA must then forward the request with its recommendations and those of the LAC (or selection committee) to the Department, which in turn transmits it to the government of the recipient country or to the home institution. Although the EA and the Department must both approve the request, the final decision rests with the Department.

3.9 Extension of the Training Program

In principle, the duration of an award holder’s training program cannot be extended. However, if it must be extended in exceptional circumstances, the EA may make the request to the Department.

All extension requests must be addressed to the EA for approval at least four (4) months before the initially set training program end date. In his request, the award holder must include a letter explaining the reasons for the extension, approval from the home institution, approval from the government of the recipient country and a letter from his research director. The EA must then forward the request with its recommendations to the Department. The final decision rests with the Department.

3.10 Canadian Departure Formalities

Before departing from Canada, the award holder must ensure that:

  • His passport and any documents required for the return trip are valid;
  • He leaves no unpaid invoices or debts, as the EA or the Department will not settle them and will send them to the award holder or to his home institution;
  • He provides the EA with a forwarding address in his home country and an email address so that the Department can contact him to set up a network of former award holders and to use his professional services if required.

Before the award holder leaves Canada, the EA must:

  • Ensure that the award holder has met all the requirements of his training program;
  • Ensure that the award holder has met all administrative requirements in connection with his stay in Canada (rent, utilities and so on);
  • Inform the award holder’s government if one or more of the award holder’s obligations have not been fulfilled;
  • Inform IRCC of the award holder’s date of departure;
  • Notify the recipient government and the Canadian mission in that country of the award holder’s itinerary and date of arrival.

3.10.1 Graduation

Award holders will receive their official diplomas several months after returning to their country. During the session wrap-up meeting, the EA gives each award holder a letter or plaque confirming graduation from the program. The educational institution’s program director may also issue such a letter.

To minimize the risk of losing Canadian diplomas in the mail, the EA may ask the educational institution to be sent diplomas. The EA will then see to it that the diplomas reach their destination by the most secure method.

3.11 Training Program Evaluation Reports

Evaluation of the Department’s award program and the related training objectives is an ongoing process that entails various reports produced by the award holder, the EA and, where applicable, the practicum supervisor. Among other things, this evaluation highlights the strengths and weaknesses of an award program so that the necessary adjustments can be made to maximize its impact on the development of institutions in the recipient country. In addition, evaluation criteria are defined on the basis of the training objectives identified early in the program planning process.

3.11.1 Regular reports

The EA must analyze reports outlining student and trainee progress in the respective academic and training programs at the end of each session. It must also make comments and recommendations to the Global Affairs Canada project officer. The regular reports from the EA should also contain financial and accounting statements.

3.11.2 Summary reports

The EA must use all the regular reports to produce an annual summary report for each award holder, including its recommendations on the renewal or discontinuation of the award and a record of the disbursements. This report is to be submitted to the Department.

3.11.3 Final report

At the end of the training program, the award holder, the EA and the practicum supervisor, if applicable, must prepare a final report on the completion of the training program and must submit it to the Department.

In his final report, the award holder must include comments on the training program, the overall administration of the program and any difficulties encountered along the way. He is also encouraged to recommend improvements to the Global Affairs Canada award program in which he participated.

3.12 Post-Training Evaluation

Under the agreement it has with the Department, the EA must prepare a post‑training evaluation, particularly based on the following considerations:

  • Did the award holder return to his country?
  • Is he working in a position related to the training taken as part of the Department’s award program?
  • Are the award holder’s degree/diploma and qualifications recognized at fair value?
  • Does the training received enable him to have a real impact in his workplace?

In addition, the EA must ensure that all signatories comply with the Training Agreement. If the award holder does not return to his country, the award program is a failure, because the main objective of effectively incorporating the acquired knowledge, skills and abilities into a professional environment following a training program is not achieved.

3.12.1 Tracking mechanisms

The EA must set up a mechanism to track former award holders in order to know what happens to them after they return to their own country. Although other tracking arrangements are encouraged, the EA must create a central database of former award holders with information on their addresses, the training they received, the duration of their stay and any other relevant data for quantitative and qualitative follow-up on training funded by the Department. This database may be consulted by the Department at any time.

The details of this tracking should be worked out at the time the training program is planned. This will also help in setting up a network of former award holders, forming a recruitment pool of local experts.

3.12.2 Degree/diploma recognition

It is crucial for the degree/diploma earned by award holders in Canada to be recognized within institutions in the recipient country given the impact that this may have on the award holders’ career path. If the degree/diploma is not recognized under bilateral agreements between the Government of Canada and the government of the recipient country, the EA must inform the Global Affairs Canada project officer and the educational institution that awarded the degree/diploma. In some countries, a specialized graduate degree, the Diplôme d’études supérieures spécialisées (DESS),Footnote 1 is not recognized as equivalent in their system but is recognized as a North American degree.



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Footnote 1

A DESS corresponds to one year of studies after the undergraduate program.

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