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REF NO.: 126

SUBJECT: Provincial budget will help Memorial University

DATE: March 27

Today's provincial budget was welcomed by officials of Memorial University. Dr. Axel Meisen, Memorial's president, said that the budget is a clear indication that the university and government share the view that education and research are fundamental to the future of the province.

Dr. Meisen said he appreciated the commitment to provide the university with funding that would enable a five per cent reduction in undergraduate tuition fees for students who are Canadian citizens or landed immigrants, as well tuition fee freezes for graduate and medical students and students at the Marine Institute. He also welcomed budget initiatives that would provide tax relief relative to student loans and the employment initiatives aimed at providing jobs for students and new graduates.

"The high debt load of our students continues to be an issue of concern," said Dr. Meisen. "Reducing tuition fees is one measure to lighten the debt load. But tuition is only part of the cost, so the measures relating to student employment and tax relief are most welcome."

Dr. Meisen said he was particularly pleased with the new $5 million Industrial Research and Innovation Fund announced in the budget. "Memorial is the leading research organization in the province and we see this new source of research funding as a very positive development," he said. "It will enhance our ability to undertake innovative research in many areas, including marine sciences and technology, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, and the oil and gas industry. Access to this new funding for the university will lever more research funding from federal, corporate and other sources."

Memorial's president also welcomed other measures announced in the budget that are specific to the university. "The $13.1 million increase in the operating grant will help the university to remain competitive nationally. As well, the continued support for The Opportunity Fund has enabled Memorial to enhance scholarships, teaching and research and improve facilities at our campuses, including the development of the hugely successful Field House in St. John's."

Dr. Meisen said the budget's focus on education and research is timely. "The future of Newfoundland and Labrador will very much be determined by the quality of our entire education system," he said. "This budget recognizes that. For Memorial University, it will enable us to continue to be one of the top comprehensive universities in the world."

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