Polytechnics Canada urges fairness in post-secondary investment for Budget 2008



    TORONTO, Feb. 6 /CNW Telbec/ - Polytechnics Canada encourages Minister
Flaherty to build on the success of Budget 2007 and introduce additional
measures to facilitate research and commercialization activities between
industry and polytechnics, as well as invest in career-ready graduates who are
essential in today's global economy.
    Polytechnics Canada is calling for leadership from the federal
government's education investment to fairly support the three post-secondary
streams - polytechnics, colleges and universities.
    Polytechnics Canada is an alliance of seven large, internationally
recognized post-secondary institutions committed to producing career-ready
graduates who combine critical thinking with theoretical understanding and
practical competence. The seven members are located in regions that drive the
Canadian economy: The lower Fraser Valley, the Calgary/Tar Sands corridor, the
Golden Horseshoe and the Kitchener/Guelph/Waterloo high-tech triangle.
    Collectively, the seven members - BCIT, SAIT Polytechnic, Conestoga
College, George Brown College, Humber College, Sheridan Institute and Seneca
College - annually educate more than 500,000 highly-qualified people essential
to Canada's economy by offering an array of credentials including applied
bachelor degrees, diplomas, apprenticeships, certificates, post-graduate
offerings, continuing education and corporate training, across a wide range of
fields.
    Polytechnic education and training is particularly important at this
time, as the country manages economic challenges. Canada's future prosperity
is being jeopardized because it is not equipping enough Canadians with the
increasingly complex and knowledge-based skills being demanded by Canadian
employers to compete in the global economy.
    Canadian Polytechnic institutions share a successful history in preparing
career-ready graduates who combine critical thinking with theoretical
understanding and practical competence. They have achieved this by:

    
        - providing career-focused and community responsive education
          developed in partnership with employers.

        - committing to a wide range of credentials including bachelor
          degrees, diplomas, apprenticeships, certificates, post-graduate
          offerings, continuing education and corporate training, spanning
          many fields.

        - combining theoretical and applied learning, relevant work
          experience, and the opportunity to participate in applied research
          and commercialization projects.

        - offering pathways that allow students to build on their
          credentials; recognizing previous learning.
    

    Prior to Budget 2007, federal and provincial transfer funding for
post-secondary education had been dramatically reduced while federal research
dollars had increased. Federal government expenditures on research have
historically favoured basic research over applied.
    Since polytechnics carry out applied research, they have not benefited
from the increased dollars for basic research and as such have faced chronic
under funding for the requisite education and training infrastructure.
    Budget 2007 provided improved funding for education, skills training and
research. Canadian granting councils and foundations are working hard to
respond to the needs of industry for applied research on product and process
development.
    Polytechnics Canada urges Minister Flaherty to build upon its education
and research investment in Budget 2007 by ensuring that it supports the three
streams of post-secondary education - polytechnics, colleges and universities.

    Increase Investment in Applied Research
    ---------------------------------------

    Budget 2007 marked the first time the role of polytechnics and colleges
has been captured in a federal budget and we encourage Minister Flaherty to
increase this investment by investing $150 million annually to support a
dedicated applied research fund for applied research projects, capacity
development at polytechnics and applied research centres.
    A dedicated, responsive applied research fund, accessible on an ongoing
basis without prolonged delay, would allow polytechnics and their industry
partners to conduct projects and solve problems in a more efficient and timely
manner. This accelerated process would be most beneficial in areas of concern
to Canada's competitiveness such as environmental science and technologies,
natural resources and energy, health and related life sciences and
technologies, and information and communications technologies.
    A dedicated applied research fund would allow for ongoing funding of
valuable applied research projects conducted by polytechnics that are
responsive to community needs, involve student participation and solve
industry problems, particularly for small- and medium-sized enterprises. This
investment would also provide funding for much needed capacity development
which would allow polytechnics to allocate more staff time and institutional
resources towards applied research conducted in partnership with industry.
    Canada's polytechnics continue to call for an investment in the creation
of Applied Research Centres in Canadian polytechnic institutions that would be
original, innovative, and polytechnic. The value of these Centres will be
highest where there is a coordinated approach that brings together research
institutions, governments and the private sector to set priorities and share
resources. The elements that would make Applied Research Centres unique such
as: team-based multi-disciplinary projects, researchers with track records in
applied research, hands-on student involvement at the undergraduate level, and
accelerated applied research project schedules from conceptualization to
commercialization make polytechnics a logical step for future investment in
commercialization of research.

    National Credential Transfer
    ----------------------------

    Polytechnics Canada urges Minister Flaherty to build upon its education
investment in Budget 2007 and support the development and design of a national
credentials framework and accreditation system to enhance and facilitate the
national transferability of credits, encourage student mobility and increase
international recognition of credentials.
    Current federal and provincial discussions on barriers to internal trade
and labour mobility would provide an excellent forum to address and respond to
the lack of academic mobility in Canada and facilitate a cross-jurisdictional
response to national skills shortages, focused on the regions which drive the
Canadian economy through collaborative training initiatives involving
governments, industry and polytechnics.

    We encourage you to visit the Polytechnics Canada website at:
http://www.polytechnicscanada.ca/




For further information:

For further information: Sharon Maloney, Executive Director,
Polytechnics Canada, (416) 949-2588, semaloney@polytechnicscanada.ca

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