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Budget embraces colleges in innovation system

March 22, 2011 — Today’s federal budget embraces the role of colleges and institutes in Canada’s innovation system.

It provides an initial $3,000,000 and an ongoing $5,000,000 to support 30 new Industrial Research Chairs at colleges.

“This is great news and a real breakthrough,” says James Knight, President and CEO of ACCC. “This was a top priority for colleges and their private sector partners.”

In addition, the budget earmarked $80,000,000 for colleges to accelerate the adoption of information and communications technologies by small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) through collaborative projects with colleges. “Our ties with SMEs are very strong. This investment will make a real difference in the productivity of countless SMEs.”

Another fund will support joint college-university research and development projects with commercialization potential.

“The Budget’s strategic investments will leverage the expertise of colleges and institutes to help businesses innovate, enhance productivity, and create employment,” says Knight. “SMEs are by far the largest source of new jobs.”

Last year saw a much-needed investment in research activities and infrastructure at colleges through the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the College and Community Innovation Program.

International students contribute $6.5 billion to the economy annually, but Canada is losing market share. An investment in international marketing for Canadian education will put us on a stronger footing with key competitors.

“Attracting international students to Canada and providing study abroad experiences for Canadian students strengthen human resources globally, enhance international partnerships, increase cross-cultural understanding and language skills, and position Canada in the global marketplace. Canadian employers place a high premium on college graduates with international experience. We are disappointed, however, that colleges appear to be excluded from funds that will send students abroad; something to work on for next time. Reforms to put more money in the pockets of students, and support for apprentices will also be welcomed by our member institutions,” says Knight.

“This was a positive budget for Canada’s 150 colleges and institutes,” Knight concluded. “The government has listened to colleges and their business partners.”

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For more information:

Debby Duford
Communications Officer
Association of Canadian Community Colleges
Tel.: (613) 746-2222, ext. 3116

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