Government Boost to Knowledge Infrastructure Good for Students, Good for the Economy

    TORONTO, March 25 /CNW/ - The Council of Ontario Universities (COU)
welcomed today's Ontario budget with its announcement of $200 million for
university facilities renewal and its commitment of $250 million over the next
five years for investment in research infrastructure. Together these
investments represent a major boost to "the knowledge infrastructure" of the
Ontario economy.
    "This is just another example of the leadership of the Ontario government
in advancing higher education," said Dr. Peter George, Chair of COU and
President of McMaster University. "Today's investments, together with
previously announced campus renewal funding, will ensure that Ontario
universities have the modern facilities to educate students and conduct
    The government's focus on building a stronger economy for all Ontarians
through initiatives around skills, jobs and strategic support for the
manufacturing sector is also seen as beneficial by the university sector.
    "Ontario universities are partners in creating economic opportunities by
educating over 355,000 undergraduate and graduate students annually, over 44%
of Canada's total," said Dr. Paul C. Genest, President of COU. "We cultivate
their capabilities to succeed in the knowledge economy, and create the
innovations that drive new products, services and job creation in this
province, particularly in the manufacturing sector.
    Throughout the province, universities work with companies on a wide range
of manufacturing initiatives that continue to help them gain a competitive
advantage. Research and development partnerships between industry and
universities include finding ways to create new lighter weight materials for
cars, increasing the volume of plant materials in furniture, creating
appliances that run on alternative fuels and developing the next generation of
wireless systems.
    "Ontario universities benefited from the $6.2 billion Reaching Higher
plan in the last mandate and are appreciative of the sustained focus the
government has brought to advancing higher education, exemplified by
investments of $135 million in campus renewal and over $200 million in
capital, as well as further investment in student aid, grants for technology
and distance learners.
    "We look forward to working with the Ontario government to address the
operating funding gap that impacts the quality and sustainability of our
universities," said Dr. Genest. "Operating costs continue to rise faster than
operating grants and student faculty ratios are higher than desired for
optimal engagement between students and faculty."

For further information:

For further information: Dr. Paul C. Genest, President, COU, (416)
616-7231; For Dr. Peter George: Andrea Farquhar, (905) 515-7075

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