Tuesday, September 1, 2009

BC September 2009 budget update and graduate students

BC's September budget update makes little mention of graduate school, graduate students or research, although graduate studies is briefly mentioned as one targeted area of expansion in the Ministry of Advanced Education and Labour service plan.

Capital spending is discussed in the budget speech, with $500 million for capital expansion on campuses--$86.4 million is going to UBC's pharmaceutical research facility--which is a drug commercialization facility. The ministry must disclose projects over $50 million, sp presumably the rest of the capital spending falls under that amount. Other major projects mentioned focus on environmental technologies or research, including Okanagan College's Centre for Green Building Technologies ($27.6 million), Energy House project at Northern Lights College ($7.8 million) and 21 million for UNBC's project involving turning waste wood into energy. Indeed, the investment in research and development mentioned in the budget speech is in green energy.

The Ministry's service plan shows an increase in funds directed to post-secondary institutions (5% increase). Bear in mind there is a 2% price index increase over last year, and UVIC is slated to have a 14% increase in graduate enrollement this year. Meanhile there's a 15% cut back to Student Aid BC--this is for ministry spending so whether this will result in cuts to bursaries, and exactly how this will be handled, is not yet clear. But earlier this year, the Pacific Leaders graduate funding was put on hold, and other student support focussed on helping disabled students, nursing students and those needing loan forgiveness was quietly cut in July (see Vancouver Sun article).

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