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This article was published 25/9/2013 (2378 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Manitoba can't enjoy the benefit of the best from its best students as long as they're so underfunded, University of Manitoba president David Barnard said Wednesday.
"Historically, we've been underfunded compared to other medical/professional universities," Barnard told a gathering of chambers of commerce at the Fairmont Hotel.
"Research lags behind other provinces," with Manitoba's universities ahead of only the Atlantic provinces in per capita research dollars.
University officials estimated the U of M needs $20 million more each year from the province to hit the average in research funding received by the other 14 large universities that have medical and professional schools.
To have the same financial support master's and PhD students in Ontario enjoy, Manitoba would have to pony up $60 million more a year in financial support, the U of M calculated.
Contrast that to the $7.77 million the provincial government paid the U of M in operating-grant increases this year.
An aide to Advanced Education Minister Erin Selby said Wednesday the Selinger government has been generous to all the schools in recent years — but making up the kind of ground Barnard covets doesn't seem to be in the cards.
"The provincial government introduced graduate scholarships in 2004 and since then has provided $17 million in support of research-based graduate studies to help attract and retain the highest-achieving students," said Selby's aide. "These graduate scholarships support 104 master's and 60 doctoral students every year. The budget for graduate scholarships in 2013 is $2.25 million.
"We are not cutting post-secondary education funding as we have seen in other provinces. In fact, over the last three years we have increased funding by a total of 14 per cent, one of the biggest increases in the country," she said.
"Since the NDP was elected, funding for universities and colleges has more than doubled, increasing by more than $300 million. This is in stark contrast to the five straight years of freezes and cuts we saw under the last Conservative government in the '90s.
"Unfortunately, we're losing some of our best and brightest to other provinces. Manitoba offers the lowest support to master's and PhD students in the country," Barnard said.
Of the Manitoba students who leave the province for graduate studies, 46 per cent say they go because they can find more financial support elsewhere, Barnard said.
There's a myth, said the president, that the faculty of graduate studies is "educating the next generation of professors."
Those master's and doctoral students will drive the ongoing growth of Manitoba, he said. "Our province will be richer still" if students receive more financial support.
It's not all doom and gloom — Barnard pointed out the U of M has exceeded 29,000 students for the first time in history.
With 8,800 employees, "U of M generates at least $1.8 billion in economic activity (annually)," he said.
The university has the most self-identified indigenous students and staff of any university in Canada, Barnard declared.
Nevertheless, "We want First Nations, M©tis, and Inuit better represented."
The U of M is close to beginning a reduction in the number of faculties, with the creation of a new health sciences faculty imminent, said Barnard. Bringing together the entire campus to find efficiencies has already chopped spending by $6.1 million a year.
Last week, the university produced the short list from an international competition to design the future of the Southwood Precinct — the former golf course to the north of campus.
"The results will be announced Nov. 4" when the U of M makes the short list public, Barnard said.