2011 Federal Elections - Innovation and academic research are keys to social prosperity
MONTREAL, April 18 /CNW Telbec/ - The Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities (CREPUQ) invites the representatives of all Canadian political parties, who are currently sharing their views on the challenges we face, to reserve a prominent place for innovation and academic research.
"While the abundant natural resources found in Quebec and all of Canada may be the envy of many, we must not lose sight of the fact that it is primarily our highly qualified labour force, our ability to innovate and our entrepreneurial capacity that will ensure our place among the most prosperous and socially advanced societies," said Denis Brière, Chair of the CREPUQ Board of Directors and Rector of Université Laval.
CREPUQ is calling attention to two key issues that Canada must address quickly and seriously if it hopes to maintain the competitive position of Canadian universities with regard to research.
The first issue concerns funding for indirect costs of research. Indirect costs of research are those not directly related to a specific research project, but which are paid by universities to support the environment necessary for research. Among other things, these include the cost of maintaining and renovating research facilities, expenses related to managing the research process, and those related to standards and regulations.
It is generally estimated that indirect costs account for 50% to 65% of the funds invested directly in a research project. These percentages are recognized by the government of Quebec. In its budget documents tabled in March 2011, the Quebec government noted that "federal underfunding of the indirect costs of research conducted by [Quebec] universities represents a shortfall of approximately $90 million for 2007-2008 alone."
Second, while the federal government should certainly continue to increase its support for federal granting agencies, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Genome Canada and the Canada Research Chairs Program, it must also pay special attention to funding for the costs of operating and maintaining university research infrastructure. Such funds help universities finance research infrastructure operations during the start-up phase. Nevertheless, these measures do not provide a long-term solution that will ensure optimal operations. This is one of the challenges our country must take on if it hopes to keep Canadian research competitive internationally.
"Whether we're talking about indirect costs of research or the cost of operating and maintaining university research infrastructure, funding for research is not just a concern of the academic milieu. These issues affect our whole society, as our attitude towards them indicates how strongly we feel about remaining in the knowledge vanguard. They are also critical factors that affect our ability to attract and retain high-calibre researchers," added Daniel Zizian, President and Director General of CREPUQ.
Quebec university proposals can be found at the CREPUQ website: http://www.crepuq.qc.ca/spip.php?article1315&lang=fr.
CREPUQ includes all 18 Quebec universities. The organization acts as their voice in relations with government and milieus concerned with university education and research. It also fosters coordination and collaboration between universities, is a research centre for university administrations, acts as a centre for coordination and joint service delivery, and is a resource centre and think tank for its members.
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