Provincial Budget positive for Memorial University
Securing the quality of higher education and enabling Memorial University's continued growth are among the positive messages received by the university in the provincial budget.
The budget provides an increase in the grant to Memorial University that will enable it to continue to freeze tuition fees for Canadian students while, at the same time, providing necessary resources for the growth of the institution and its educational initiatives. In addition, new funding is allocated to encourage research which will enable Memorial to grow its multi-million dollar annual research program.
Dr. Axel Meisen, Memorial's president, said the budget provides a clear indication that the government recognizes the importance of the university to the future development of the province. “The budget confirms to me that the government is committed to ensuring the quality and development of Memorial as an outstanding university, while keeping tuition fees unchanged for Canadian students,” he said. “This is an investment in the university and in the future of the province. We need to continue to develop a highly skilled and educated workforce if Newfoundland and Labrador is to achieve its tremendous potential. We also need to promote and encourage innovation and creativity and this budget provides the means for doing that.”
Dr. Meisen highlighted a number of other initiatives in the budget that he said are positive news for the university:
- The allocation of $5 million to the Industrial Research and Innovation Fund (IRIF) will enable Memorial and other organizations in the province to expand on their research programs and lever additional research funding from federal and other sources.
- The funding of a $500,000 feasibility/planning study for the establishment of a proposed centre of environmental excellence in western Newfoundland involving Memorial's campus in Corner Brook, Sir Wilfred Grenfell College.
- The provision of $4 million to cover deferred maintenance and $1 million for teaching equipment will enable the university to continue its program to renew and refurbish its infrastructure.
- Fulfilling final pledged commitments to The Opportunity Fund ($500,000) campaign.
- The enhancement of fine arts education throughout the school system is an initiative that will have a positive impact on arts, education and fine arts students at Memorial.
- The provision of funding for employment programs will help mitigate the issue of debt for postsecondary students.
Some of the detail of the budget's investment in postsecondary education remains to be revealed when the provincial government releases its White Paper on Postsecondary Education. “I congratulate the government on its commitment and foresight and I look forward to the release of the White Paper, which will provide further details on the future directions of the university,” said Dr. Meisen.
The White Paper is slated for release by the Department of Education sometime this spring. “In the interim, the university and all its constituent parts including the Marine Institute, Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, the Labrador Institute, the Harlow campus and our special facilities will continue to provide support for the development of our province,” said Dr. Meisen.