There were a number of measures announced in the provincial budget that will have a positive impact on Memorial University of Newfoundland according to Dr. Axel Meisen, Memorial’s president.
“There was good news for our students in the budget, especially regarding the important issues of the cost of education and student debt,” said Dr. Meisen. “The continuation of the freeze on tuition fees provides certainty to students as to that cost for the coming year. The introduction of a needs-based grant system and some interest relief for student loans will be welcome news for both our students and alumni.”
The announcement of additional funding for operating and new capital expenditures at Memorial was also received favourably. “Government has increased the university’s operating grant by about $18 million and provided new funding in a number of important areas, including the creation of new residences, a new academic building in Corner Brook, the School of Ocean Technology at our Marine Institute and several others,” said Dr. Meisen. “These are all welcome initiatives as we strive to grow the university.
The budget also contained information concerning the governance of Memorial’s Corner Brook campus, Sir Wilfred Grenfell College. In his speech, Finance Minister Tom Marshall said government will work with Memorial’s Board of Regents to implement the recommendations of a study into the governance structure of Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, including granting the college full university status and a separate executive, Senate and budget while maintaining a common Board of Regents.
Dr. Meisen indicated that this is first time the university has seen this proposal. “This will require discussion and debate inside the university, especially at the Board of Regents’ level, and discussion in the general community to understand its implications. We are seeking clarification on the matter.”
Memorial’s operating grant increases to $216 million. Highlights of special initiatives include:
• Salary adjustments -- $6.34 million
• White Paper initiatives -- $4.2 million
• Innovative research -- $2.5 million (to a total of $10 million)
• Environmental (energy emission reduction) -- $1.3 million
• Utility costs -- $1 million
• School of Ocean Technology (Marine Institute) -- $1 million
• Centre Environmental Excellence, Corner Brook -- $795,000
• Distance education expansion of programs -- $500,000
• SERT Centre, Marine Institute, Stephenville -- $400,000
• Research data protection system -- $350,000
• International students -- $200,000
• National and international marketing -- $800,000
• Pension fund contribution
• Residences, St. John’s and Corner Brook -- $11.3 million
• Academic building, Corner Brook -- $4 million
• White Paper etc. initiatives -- $7.8 million
This information does not include Memorial's Faculty of Medicine which receives a separate budget through the Department of Health. There will be separate release regarding the Faculty of Medicine.