New investments in universities make Canada more competitive
OTTAWA - The federal government's investments in university research, skills and talent will help to make Canada more innovative and competitive, says the organization representing Canada's 97 universities across the country.
"One million young people will graduate from Canada's universities by the year 2017," says Stephen Toope, president of The University of British Columbia and chair of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. "They'll be equipped with the knowledge, experiences and skills Canada will need for decades to come. And they'll have gained the ability to adapt to the jobs of today - and tomorrow."
"Canada needs more university, college and trades graduates to compete in the new global knowledge economy," adds Paul Davidson, president of AUCC. According to a recent CIBC report, most jobs in high demand in Canada require a university degree, including managers in health, education, social and community services; human resources and business service professionals; and supervisors in manufacturing and processing.
The federal government's research investments have made Canada a top research nation. "Even in difficult fiscal times, the government recognizes that university research fuels a competitive advantage for Canada," says Mr. Davidson. "Over successive budgets, the federal government has increased support for research and innovation in Canada -investments that nurture talent, create jobs and make us more competitive internationally."
Canada's universities also welcomed the importance that today's budget places on international education initiatives. "Investments in international education leverage economic benefits of more than $8 billion a year - and they benefit every region of Canada," Mr. Davidson points out. "Employers tell us they want a versatile international workforce. Canada benefits - and Canadian students benefit - from a global outlook."
AUCC is part of an education sector-led consortium that has urged the government to enhance international education efforts to drive Canada's global competitiveness, and is ready to work with partners to help ensure the international education strategy advances.
A new element of the international education efforts announced today is enhanced funding for Mitacs' Globalink Program, which brings top undergraduate students from around the world to Canadian universities to undertake research projects and will now allow Canadian students to go abroad for research experiences. "This is an opportunity for Canada's universities to enhance their profile and attract the brightest international students to our campuses," says Mr. Davidson.
University leaders also welcomed a new scholarship program that will improve access and achievement for Aboriginal postsecondary students. The budget provides funding to be matched by the private sector for new scholarships for Aboriginal students through an initiative of Indspire, in collaboration with Canada's universities.
"Aboriginal youth is the fastest growing segment of our population, yet Aboriginal university graduation rates lag far behind those of the non-Aboriginal population," notes Mr. Davidson. "These measures are a concrete step towards closing the education gap."