Missed opportunities: Budget ignores vital role for post-secondary education

    OTTAWA, Jan. 27 /CNW Telbec/ - The group representing university and
college educators in Canada says today's federal budget is filled with
half-hearted measures that will not adequately stimulate the Canadian economy,
will do little for the most vulnerable, and will fail to meet the needs of
Canada's vital post-secondary education sector.
    "Investment in post-secondary education and research is one of the best
ways to stimulate the economy both in the short term and over the long run,"
says Penni Stewart, president of the Canadian Association of University
Teachers (CAUT). "The Harper Government missed an important opportunity in its
limited initiatives for our universities and colleges."
    Stewart is concerned that there are flaws in what appears to be the
budget's principle "good news" item for post-secondary education: The $2
billion in infrastructure funding for universities and colleges over the next
two years will require institutions to raise at least half of the funding from
other sources.
    "Provincial governments are facing serious fiscal restraints, and in
light of the current economic downturn, it is going to be a challenge for
universities and colleges to leverage support from the private sector," says
Stewart. "In short, there is no guarantee the money will actually be spent."
    Stewart says the budget failed to address the three most important needs
for the sector: transfers to provinces for core operating funding for
universities and colleges, more funding for academic research, and funding for
student financial assistance.
    "There is no new money in this budget for core funding, or to deal with
the financial needs of undergraduate university students and their families,"
Stewart says. "The federal government has far more room to manoeuvre and has a
responsibility to do its fair share, which it has chosen not to do."
    CAUT's executive director James Turk expressed disappointment about the
budget's failure to increase funding to Canada's granting agencies.
    "There's probably no better investment in the long-term economic and
social well-being of Canadians than an investment in university research,"
says Turk. "In the United States, the Obama administration recognizes this and
is proposing more than $12 billion in new research funding as part of its
stimulus package. When you look at the relative size of our economy that means
we'd need more than $1 billion here just to keep pace. This budget's failure
to provide adequate research funding will increase the likelihood that Canada
will lose some of its top researchers."

    CAUT is the national voice of over 65,000 academic and general staff at
over 120 universities and colleges across Canada.

For further information:

For further information: For interviews on Tuesday, January 27, please
contact: James Turk, CAUT's executive director, Mobile: (613) 277-0488;
Michael Conlon, government relations, Mobile: (613) 601-2616

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Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT)

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