Trent Praises Federal Investments in Universities and Research
March 3, 2007
Trent University President Bonnie Patterson commended the federal government for budget initiatives that will result in new investments in Canada’s university sector.
In addition to an increase in the transfer to the provinces in support of postsecondary education, the budget contains a series of investments in university research and knowledge transfer. “These investments once again recognize the value of university research in helping to make Canada a more prosperous country and better place to live,” said President Patterson.”
Patterson noted the budget earmarks an investment of $687 million in Canada Social Transfers in 2007-08 to equalize per capita transfers, resulting in a new base level of per capita funding for students in Ontario, Alberta and the Northwest Territories.
In addition to this transfer, the federal government is pledging $800 million per year, beginning in 2007-08, to the postsecondary education sector, to be followed by annual increases of three per cent. Funds contained in this transfer will be used to enhance accessibility for groups traditionally underrepresented in universities, improve capacity for undergraduates and graduate students, and renew infrastructure.
Of special significance is the $510 million for the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). “Given our research intensity, this support is vital for Trent University,” said Patterson. CFI provides the critical research infrastructure support that is necessary to attract and retain talent to the University and has contributed to Trent’s national reputation for research performance.
“CFI funding has played a critical role, for example, in the development of Trent’s Worsfold Water Quality Centre and the DNA Building and other significant research programs at Trent,” said Patterson. “Through enhanced CFI funding we can create new opportunities for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows and attract and keep faculty.”
Other highlights of the budget include:
The government will provide multi-year increases to the Canada Graduate Scholarships program, resulting in additional funding of $15 million in 2007-08, $20 million in 2008-09, $27 million in 2009-10 to support an additional 1,000 graduate students each year once the program is fully subscribed. Of these additional 1,000 scholarships, 400 will be allocated by CIHR and NSERC respectively, and 200 will be allocated by SSHRC.
The budget provides an additional $85 million to the three federal research granting agencies. This represents an overall increase of 5.3 per cent in their combined base budgets over fiscal 2006-07. The $85 million breaks down as follows: $37 million for the Canadian Institute of Health Research; $37 million for the National Science and Engineering Research Council; and $11 million for the Social Science and Humanities Research Council. The additional funding to SSHRC translates into a higher increase than for the two other granting agencies, approximately six per cent for SSHRC as compared to five per cent for CIHR and NSERC.
The university sector awaits details about the government’s previously announced science and technology strategy and will continue to advocate for increases in funding for the Indirect Costs of research. The budget provides an additional $15 million to the Indirect Costs program. This increase adds to the overall $315 million annual total for Indirect Costs, but reduces the overall average reimbursement rate from 26.2 per cent of direct costs in 2006-07 to 25.4 per cent in 2007-08 – the second lowest reimbursement rate since the inception of the program. Indirect Costs include items such as heat, hydro, insurance for research equipment, and personnel support for research (i.e. monitoring finances).