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Budget support for Memorial welcomed

Dr. Eddy Campbell An increase in the operating grant, the continuation of the tuition fee freeze for students and the province’s initiatives in ocean technology are just a few of the measures announced in the provincial budget that will have a positive impact on Memorial University of Newfoundland, according to Dr. Eddy Campbell, Memorial’s acting president.

“Overall this is a good budget for Memorial, for our students, our faculty and our staff,” said Dr. Campbell.

“The operating grant increase is important to help us address the growing competition we face from across the region and the country for our students, faculty and professionals,” he said.

“Low tuition fees, coupled with the high quality of our academic programs, are enabling us to effectively address today’s enrolment challenges,” he said. “The grant increase will also enable us to remain competitive in terms of compensation for our faculty, professionals and staff, which is a great challenge for all Canadian universities.”

The budget provides funding in support of the expansion of a number of Memorial’s academic programs including Nursing, Social Work, Business, Engineering, and some programs at Memorial’s Marine Institute. The university’s Faculty of Medicine will also expand enrolment and the budget also included funding for expansion of the medical school’s facilities.

The budget, released April 29, also allocated funding to advance the initiative to provide autonomy for Sir Wilfred Grenfell College, Memorial’s campus in Corner Brook. “We are committed to working with our colleagues in Corner Brook to see these changes bring positive benefit to our students and to university education in the province,” Dr. Campbell said. Grenfell College will also see additional funding for further development of its Centre for Environmental Excellence.

In terms of capital projects, the budget included further funding for the development of new student residences in St. John’s and Corner Brook and the development of a new academic building in Corner Brook, projects announced originally in last year’s budget. There was also funding allocated for the development of an emergency response system at the campuses and for water supply infrastructure at the Ocean Science’s Centre in Logy Bay.

In terms of research at the university, Dr. Campbell said Memorial welcomed the funding for the Newfoundland and Labrador Research and Development Council and the initiative to create an ocean technology strategy for the province. “We share the government’s view that this province must be a leader in these sectors in terms of research, especially applied research” he said.

“Memorial has been the province’s research leader for many years. Our activity represent about two-thirds of the entire research output of the province and if you look at local companies involved in research and development, you’ll find many Memorial connections. These are our graduates and many of these companies have been supported and encouraged by our Genesis Centre, Marine Institute and other units. We expect to play a major role, collaborating with government, in future developments in the oceans technology sector and in research in general in the province.”

Dr. Campbell indicated Memorial’s strategic plan calls for a growth agenda over the next several years and the continuing support of the provincial government will be essential to achieving its many goals.

“As we look forward, we have to look at issues like growth in our graduate student population and we have to target improvements in our research infrastructure,” he said, “Issues like graduate recruitment, fellowships and scholarships, the future development of a new Sciences Research Building and other important initiatives are matters that we will be emphasizing in future budget submissions to government and around which we expect to build Memorial University for years to come. But those are matters for next year and beyond.”