Major new university infrastructure investment supporting research and innovation will fuel prosperity

OTTAWA, March 22, 2016 /CNW/ - Major new investments in university infrastructure in Budget 2016 will support groundbreaking discoveries and enhance learning opportunities for students. The government's announcement of $2 billion over three years for a new Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund reflects the impact of higher education, research and innovation in driving prosperity and enhancing quality of life for all Canadians. 

"This government understands that universities are best able to drive immediate economic stimulus and longer-term prosperity through infrastructure projects, through research and by ensuring students have the skills they need," says Elizabeth Cannon, chair of Universities Canada and president of the University of Calgary. "We're very excited that students and researchers will benefit from new research and innovation facilities and their improved environmental sustainability."

Investing in discovery research is also a priority recognized today. The additional $95 million per year to the budgets of the research granting councils starting in 2016–17 is the highest amount of new annual funding for discovery research in more than a decade.  Between 2006 and 2013, research funding in Canada fell from 3rd to 8th among OECD nations. Today's news is an important step toward returning to globally competitive research funding levels. Universities Canada also welcomes additional funding for other research initiatives, including $237.2 million in 2016–17 to support the pan-Canadian activities of Genome Canada to the end of 2019–20.

Universities Canada applauds the $800 million over four years to strengthen innovation networks and clusters as part of the government's upcoming Innovation Agenda. Universities look forward to being key partners in this initiative.

The government's planned review of federal support for fundamental science can also boost discovery and innovation by finding new ways of supporting emerging research leaders and ensuring flexibility in responding to emerging research opportunities, including big science projects and other international collaboration.

"Today's budget shows that this government understands that universities empower Canadians and empower communities," says Paul Davidson, president of Universities Canada. "These are important new investments which help put Canada on the path to being more resourceful, more innovative and more competitive – laying the foundation for sustainable long-term growth."

Postsecondary students and their families will benefit from important changes to Canada's Student Loans Program, increasing young people's ability to complete a postsecondary education and gain the advanced skills and knowledge demanded by today's global economy. Today's changes make student financial aid clearer and underscore that high quality postsecondary education is an attainable goal for Canadian families.

Today's federal budget expands opportunities for students to obtain co-ops, internships and other work experience in conjunction with their educational program. The government will launch the Post-Secondary Industry Partnership and Cooperative Placement Initiative in 2016, with funding of $73 million over four years.

"The government is moving quickly to implement its promise to expand hands-on learning opportunities for students," Davidson says. "Canada's universities have worked with students, faculty and business leadership to achieve this and we are pleased to see it moving forward."

Indigenous children will benefit from substantial investments in primary and secondary education on reserve, totalling $2.6 billion over five years. Universities Canada encourages all partners to close the Indigenous education gap and work toward further investments in areas of proven success as an urgent national priority so all students can achieve their potential.

Universities Canada is the voice of Canada's universities at home and abroad, representing the interests of 97 Canadian public and private not-for-profit universities.

 

SOURCE Universities Canada

For further information: Helen Murphy, Director of communications, Universities Canada, hmurphy@univcan.ca, 613 563-3961 ext. 238 or cell: 613 608-8749; Nadine Robitaille, Communications officer, Universities Canada, nrobitaille@univcan.ca, 613 563-3961 ext. 306 or cell: 613 884-8401; @univcan, www.univcan.ca

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