Summer Research Program FAQ



Ontario / Rhône-Alpes (ORA) Student Exchange Program

Summer Research Program

Frequently Asked Questions and Mini-Handbook



1. What Is the Summer Research Program (SRP)?

It is an opportunity to engage in research in science, engineering and health science disciplines at a university in Ontario’s partner region of Rhône-Alpes.

The summer research program is partially funded by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Uni¬versities (see point 9 below) and must take place in the summer months – each stay must last a minimum of two and a maximum of four months.

2. Who Can Apply?

To be eligible, you must be

  • a Canadian citizen or permanent resident 
  • a graduate or an undergraduate student enrolled as a continuing student in a science, engineering or health science discipline at an Ontario university participating in the ORA Exchange
  • nominated by a professor at your home university or by that university’s International Office with support from a professor

If you do not meet all of above criteria but believe that special circumstances may apply, please contact the ORA Program Coordinator (contact information under point 23 below).

3. How Many Spaces Are There?

The number of spaces varies from year to year and depend on funding received from the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

4. How Does the SRP Relate to the ORA Exchange?

The ORA (Ontario Rhône-Alpes) Student Exchange Program is a jurisdictional exchange between the twelve publicly funded universities in Ontario’s partner region of Rhône-Alpes and the following Ontario institutions: Brock, Carleton, Guelph, Lakehead, Laurentian, Nipissing, Ottawa, Queen’s, Ryerson, Trent, Waterloo, Western, Windsor, and York.

The ORA Exchange offers two-semester exchange opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students at Ontario universities. For more information, see the website

The SRP is a special initiative within the ORA Exchange but can also be combined with the exchange.

5. What and Where Is Rhône-Alpes?

Rhône-Alpes is one of the 26 regions of France, located on the eastern border of the country, towards the south. The region was named after the Rhône River and the Alps mountain range. Its capital, Lyon, is the second-largest metropolitan area in France after Paris. Rhône-Alpes is also the 6th European economic region. Rhône-Alpes contains 3 major cities in France. It forms the triangle Lyon - Grenoble - Saint-Étienne.

There are 12 universities and Grandes Ecoles in the region of Rhône-Alpes; 6 in Lyon, 4 in Grenoble, one in St. Etienne and one in Savoie.

6. Which Rhône-Alpes Universities Participate?

The following is the list of partner universities in Rhône-Alpes.

1. Lyon 1 (Claude Bernard)

2. Ecole Normale Supérieure (Lyon)

3. INSA (Lyon)

4. Ecole Centrale Supérieure (Lyon)

5. Grenoble 1 (Université Jean Fourier)

6. INP (Grenoble)

7. Université de St. Etienne

8. Université de Savoie

As long as you are accepted by a mentor professor in Rhône-Alpes, your placement may be at a university at which your mentor conducts research.

6. Who Administers the SRP?

Like the ORA Exchange as a whole, the SRP is administered by Program Offices in Ontario (located at York University) and Rhône-Alpes (at the Université de Lyon 2, Université Lumière). In Ontario, there is also an academic program director.

The ORA Exchange agreement was signed in 1990, and the first students were exchanged in 1991. After 21 years of partnership, a very close relationship exists between Ontario and Rhône-Alpes and their universities. Communication is quick, easy, and mutually supportive - a major plus for participating students.

7. How Do I Find a Mentor in Rhône-Alpes?

Students who find their own mentor in Rhône-Alpes receive precedence (see point 12 below). The best way to find a mentor is to ask the Ontario professor who is nominating you with whom she/he suggests you work. Then they can contact the researcher in Rhône-Alpes.

8. How Much French Do I Need?

If your mentor agrees, you may participate even if you have no knowledge of French. Of course, it helps if you have some French, and depending on the timing of your research stay, you may be able to take an introductory course at your home university in Canada before you go. Unfortunately, the timing and structure of the research program makes it unlikely that you can take a French course while conducting research.

9. How Much Financial Aid is Available?

For the summer 2016, students will receive a stipend of approximately 500 Euros (around $750 depending on the exchange rate) a month paid to the student by the French Lab. ORA also provides a scholarship of $500 a month for a maximum period of 3 months. You may try and augment this with funding from your home or host universities and/or third party sources.

It is important to note that when getting acceptance from the French Lab, you MUST get confirmation in writing that they are willing to pay out the stipend for the length of your internship.

10. When Do I Receive My Scholarship?

That depends on when we receive the money from MTCU. It is usually shortly after you arrive in France. You should plan to pay flights etc. in advance. You will have to fill out a form which will be sent to you shortly after your arrival in France.  Keep your receipts.

11. Can I Still Participate if I Hold an NSERC or Similar Grant?

Yes. But if you have a substantial outside grant that would cover your expenses for the SRP, we ask that you consider not accepting the Ontario scholarship so that we can fund additional students in the SRP.

12. How Do I Apply?

An application package consists of the follow¬ing:

  • Completed application form (can be downloaded from the ORA website)
  • Letter of nomination from a professor in your home academic program outlining the relevance of your proposed project to your program of study, the reasons for nominating you, and if appropriate the kind of credit you are likely to re¬ceive for work done on the SRP
  • Letter (or print-out of an e-mail) from the mentor professor in Rhône-Alpes stating that she/he is willing to host you. This letter should indicate the precise duration of the research visit and the activities in which you will be en¬gaged.
  • Description of your project.
  • Brief statement (maximum one page) outlining your reasons (academic and personal) for wishing to participate in the SRP.
  • Copies of academic transcripts of all post¬secondary institutions you have attended

You should submit your application through your home university’s International Office, which will rank-list all of its nominees and for¬ward the packages to the Ontario Program Office. Please check the deadline for application to your University.

13. What Is the Process / Timing for Acceptance?

The Program Office, will consider all applications and establish a rank-listing based on the following criteria:

1. Academic record and potential of the applicant

2. Feasibility and “fit” of the proposed project (including having found a mentor at the host institution willing to receive you)

3. Distribution among Ontario and Rhône-Alpes universities and across specializations.

We will do our best to inform you whether you have been accepted and where by the middle of March.

You can then take up correspondence with the International Office of your host university and with the host institute and your mentor and make any arrangements needed.

In May there will be an “outward-bound” orientation workshop in Toronto for Ontario students going on the ORA Exchange. You will also be invited. Please check the ORA website for details.

Once you take up residence in Rhône-Alpes please let the ORA Program Office know how to reach you.

After you return from your research stay, you should submit a report to the ORA Program Office in Ontario on your activities and experiences by September 30.

14. What Is My Status in Rhône-Alpes?

You must register as a student at your host university in Rhône-Alpes. That university’s International Office, with which you will be in contact before leaving Canada, will help you with this process. Your student status allows you to live in residence and gives you access to student discounts for everything from travel to entertainment.

15. Do I Need a Visa?

If you hold an EU, Canadian, or American passport, you do not need a visa to enter France. For all other passports, please find out from the French Consulate.

Students who do not hold an EU passport and are doing an intership (stage) in France for less than 3 months are not required to obtain special documentation because they are considered visitors. For details on this and other bureaucratic niceties (which are not really that onerous), see the ORA Exchange Handbook.

In all cases, however, you are responsible for ensuring that you have the necessary documentation and permits/visas.

16. What Kind of Insurance Do I Need?

You must arrange for additional insurance (for both health insurance and liability insurance) in France; OHIP or another Canadian insurance plan are not adequate.

Your host university’s International Office can advise you on what kinds of insurance are needed and where you can obtain coverage at a reasonable cost.

You may also wish to consider baggage or other insurance (see the ORA Handbook).

17. Is Accommodation Provided?

The International Office of your host university will do its best to help you find accommodation in a student residence, but we cannot guarantee that this will be successful. Once you have been notified of your acceptance into the SRP, you should also ask your host unit and mentor whether they can assist you in finding a good place to live.

One important thing to consider is that you should arrange the beginning and end of your stay to coincide with a complete month. If you arrive (or leave) in the middle of a month, you may well have to pay the entire month’s rent.

18. How Should I Budget?

You need to pay for your transportation from Ontario to France plus monthly expenses of some $1,000 to $1,200, including accommodation, food, insurance, student service fee, enter¬tainment, and other incidentals.

19. Can I Get Academic Credit for My Research Stay?

Students who wish to obtain academic credit for their research work in Rhône-Alpes must arrange this through their home university, at whose sole discretion credit can be granted.

20. Can I Participate More than Once?

Students may participate a maximum of once at a given level of their studies. Students applying for the first time will receive priority.

21. What If I Return Home Before the Agreed End of my Research Stay?

If you decide to return early, you may be required to return your entire scholarship or a portion of it. The determination on this will be made by the Ontario Program Office.

22. Which Conditions Apply to Participating in the SRP?

Once you are accepted into the SRP and have confirmed your participation, you must keep the Program Office in Ontario aware of any change in your circumstances and contact information.

Students must sign a legal statement accepting responsibility, legal and financial, for all aspects of their program.

If you break off your research stay prematurely, you may forfeit all or part of your scholarship (see point 21 above).

SRP participants are representatives of their home university, the ORA Exchange, Ontario, and Canada. Under extreme circumstances that endanger the reputations of these entities, the Program reserves the right to abrogate a student’s participation.

Upon completion of your research stay, you must provide the Program Office with a report on all relevant aspects of your SRP. We reserve the right to make this report public or anonymized if you wish.

23. Where Can I Get More Information About France?

A good source of information is the ORA Handbook for Students from Ontario, which you can find (and download) on the ORA website. This handbook is updated annually in the spring, but even the handbook for the current year contains useful information.

24. Whom Can I Contact for Advice and Assistance?

The ORA Handbook for Ontario Students has a list of all International Offices at Rhône-Alpes universities. In addition, the Program Offices located at York can provide advice and assistance. The contact data for the Ontario office are as follows:

ORA Program Office
270 York Lanes,
York University4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3


Tel. 416-736-2100416-736-2100 , ext. 40006 or 22919

Fax 416-736-5709

 E-mail   apoleszczuk [at] ouinternational [dot] ca

              programs [at] ouinternational [dot] ca