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Canada’s Lean New Budget Offers More for Research and International Education

A “no frills” federal budget announced by Canada’s government on Thursday includes increases in funds for research, international education, and partnerships between colleges and industry, but not all higher-education groups were cheering.

“While there is an announced $37-million for Canada’s three academic-research granting councils, this only restores half of what was cut last year and comes with strings that seriously limit its usefulness for advancing knowledge,” James L. Turk, executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, said in a news release. The restrictions mean “there will be no new money for the basic research on which all scientific advancement depends,” he said.

Other groups had more-positive reactions to the plan, particularly to elements affecting international education and programs that foster innovation and job creation.

The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, which represents 97 universities across the country, said in a news release that the government’s continuing support for “university research, skills, and talent will help to make Canada more innovative and competitive.”

Paul Davidson, the association’s president, said universities also welcomed budget provisions that emphasize international education, including funds for a scholarship program “that brings top undergraduate students from around the world to Canadian universities and will now allow Canadian students to go abroad for research experiences.”

He also applauded measures that seek to improve college access and achievement for Aboriginal postsecondary students, calling those efforts “a concrete step towards closing the education gap.”

The Canadian Bureau for International Education praised a plan to spend $23-million over two years to promote Canada as an international-study destination.

Polytechnics Canada, which represents some of the nation’s largest colleges of technology, released a statement saying it was delighted with the budget’s recognition of “the key role its member institutions play in fostering innovation, creating high-quality jobs, and supporting targeted apprentice training.” Budget items affecting the polytechnics include a $12-million increase for a program that supports applied-research collaboration between colleges and industry, and a new $20-million pilot program to help small and medium-size businesses commercialize their products more quickly.

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