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Increased funding and new institute at Memorial University

Ref. No. 118

DATE:     Mar. 22, 2002
SUBJECT:     Increased funding and new institute at Memorial University

Memorial University will see an increase in its overall funding and will also be the home of a new research institute on biodiversity. The announcements came this week in the Throne Speech delivered on Monday and in the provincial budget, unveiled on March 21.

The government increased the total grant to Memorial University by $13 million. Memorial's president Dr. Axel Meisen said he is pleased with the news contained in the announcements. "The allocation made by the government to Memorial goes a long way to meeting our anticipated expenses," Dr. Meisen said. "I am also pleased that the government has provided extra money to help with our most urgent infrastructure needs," he added, referring to an additional $1 million allocation for maintenance at the university.

The government also announced that $3.5 million would be available to help students. However, the money will not be automatically applied as a tuition reduction. Instead, the government has asked that roundtable discussions be held on how the money should best be used. Ultimately, decisions on tuition fees (including fee reductions) rest with the university's Board of Regents. Dr. Meisen welcomed the roundtable discussions, a process he thinks should lead to the best use of the money. "It is very helpful for students to express their views," Dr. Meisen said. "Last year, in the wake of the 10 per cent tuition reduction, some students suggested that rather than have a tuition reduction, they would have preferred the money go into a student fund to be used for travel and research expenses associated with their degree program. This is only one idea, of course, but I think these are the kinds of possibilities some students may want to see considered in addition to tuition fee reductions. The roundtable will be a place where students can present their views." The roundtable will advise the minister of Youth Services and Post-secondary Education.

Earlier in the week, in the Lieutenant Governor's Speech from the Throne, the Honourable Maxwell A. House announced plans by the government to establish a new Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Science which will be located at Memorial. The institute will co-ordinate opportunities and activities associated with aspects of natural science, research and development pertinent to provincial interests in wildlife, wildlife habitat and conservation, biodiversity and ecosystems.

The initiative envisages Memorial signing a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Tourism, Culture and Recreation's Science Division, which will be responsible for the institute. The purpose of the institute will be: to increase knowledge of biodiversity and ecosystems, both of which are critical to the economy and the way of life of the province; to strengthen collaborative research between the Department and the university; to initiate long-term basic research on wildlife, conservation and habitat and to establish Newfoundland and Labrador as a world leader in biodiversity and ecosystem science.

"We welcome the opportunity to partner with the provincial government and I believe that our students, faculty and staff will benefit from participating in the research of the Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Science," Dr. Meisen said. "The protection of our unique environment and the prudent development of our natural resources has long been a key area of Memorial's research interest."


For further information, please contact Ivan Muzychka, manager, Memorial University News Service, 737-8665.


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