U of C rakes in the research money

By Mike Bowerman

The University of Calgary finished the 1999/2000 fiscal year with a record high research income of $134,508,482.

According to Interim Vice-president Research Keith Archer, the increase in funding translates into more work opportunities in research for students.

"For graduate students it will mean more opportunities for direct funding through research assistantships and fellowships," said Archer. "It also means the opportunity to work on a part-time basis on projects in their discipline. Likewise, for undergraduates there will be opportunities to be involved in research with professors they are studying for."

The increase in research funds is a result of increases in government funding for research that often require matching private sector resources.
While students are glad to have the increased funding, Students’ Union Vice-president Academic Mark Hoekstra noted there are conflicts with private involvement.

"The school’s reputation is linked to the research being done [here]," noted Hoekstra. "And it will enhance the school’s reputation [but] heavy research grants can pull researchers away from classrooms, and students will lose some formal contact with those researchers."

Government cutbacks to education funding in the mid-’90s forced post-secondary institutions to seek their funding elsewhere. While the funding is a necessity for schools with limited access to funds these new sources also signal a change that could affect the direction of education in post-secondary institutions.

"Some faculties get left behind in funding as education moves towards a more commercial rather than academic concern," said Hoekstra. "That’s a negative to me, but at the same time the university is lacking funds."

Though there is debate about the effect of private funding on education there is little debate about the need for increased funding. The interest on research endowments provided $10 million for research chairs and professorships at the U of C last year.

Another financial benefit from research is the U of C-owned company University Technology International. The company allows professors to privatize their intellectual output in a process that allows the university to become a shareholder for the public contribution to developing this knowledge. This process generated $900,000 for the university last year.

Meanwhile, the university continues to contribute to society with advances in areas such as medicine, high-technology industries or archeology, as with the recent Queen of Sheba temple excavation.

"We have the dual mission to create and disseminate knowledge," observed Archer. "The research goes into the creation of knowledge."

Leave a comment