Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Festival of Budget news

Here is some more detail regarding the 2010 budget from the Ministry of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development, there is this mention of graduate students:

Objective 1.2: BC’s post secondary education sector fosters creativity, innovation and knowledge development.

British Columbia’s future economy will be shaped by innovation. Collaborative partnerships and knowledge development will be critical to unlocking BC’s full economic and creative potential in the years ahead. Our ability to capitalize on BC’s leading-edge research and competitive strengths in key knowledge industries will require unprecedented collaboration between government, post secondary institutions and industry. It will also require a province-wide effort to build a culture of science in BC to ensure the province has a critical mass of people with the knowledge and skills needed to support the knowledge-based economy.

- Work in partnership with the Ministry of Small Business, Technology and Economic Development on the continued development and management of research and innovation policy and research-related investments.
- Support research and innovation through operating grants to post secondary institutions, targeted funding for graduate students, and through the BC Knowledge Development Fund, which supports investments in research infrastructure.
- Work with partners to advance a culture of science across BC.

But what does it mean?

In past years the government has set targets for increasing grad enrollment. They have also created, then expanded, then put on hold the BC Pacific Leaders scholarship program which funded graduate students. This doesn't indicate if there will be a shift to more or less, or maintenance of the same.

The Advanced Education ministry's service plan also mentions international student recruitment as a key goal for BC, with Goal 3 to make BC a "global destination of choice for students, skilled workers and entrepreneurs".

Increasing first nations participation is another key goal, but unfortunately no specific targets are given except to increase enrollment over previous years.

Supporting research universities is also given as part of a plan to increase the knowledge economy in BC. They specifically mention supporting research in key labour market areas as well, and medicine gets a particular nod with a goal to increase the number of doctors. This sort of thing makes universities nervous. Traditionally universities have been arms length--receiving government funds, but able to allocate to areas of research and education as they choose. Recently past couple years, the ministry created quite a stir by adding "Letters of Expectation" to their funding letters, with the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of British Columbia arguing the letters violated the University Act. The ministry seems to be addressing this fear in particular with Minister Stillwell's introduction:

We want our public universities to have the independence and flexibility needed for them to pursue their unique areas of excellence in partnership with others, and in a way that provides better services for students. Working closely with our institutions, we will be exploring ways for them to unleash their creativity and thrive in an increasingly competitive market.

You can read the full BC Ministry of Advanced Education and Labour Management Development March 2010 service plan here.

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