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Canada: Universities seek 11,000 more spaces

SFUThe Research Universities’ Council of British Columbia (RUCBC) appeared before the provincial legislature’s standing committee on finance Oct. 18 requesting increased student financial aid the creation of new post-secondary spaces.

“We are mindful that these are difficult financial times for government,” says SFU President Andrew Petter, a member of the RUCBC, which represents the province’s six research universities.

“But now is the time to make investments that will make a real difference for students and a real contribution to the future of the province. This is both a social and an economic priority for B.C.”

The council’s submission, Opportunity Agenda for BC, says the increasingly global economy requires that British Columbians have the right education and skills to be successful.

The plan sets out three key pillars for action:
* A space for every qualified student.
* A guarantee for students in need.
* A commitment to innovation and jobs.

It calls for:
* 11,000 new funded spaces in graduate, undergraduate, college and trade programs at a cost of approximately $130 million over four years.
* Expansion of student financial aid to include grants, loan reductions, and graduate scholarships at a net cost of approximately $51 million.
* Creation of an Innovate BC initiative to build on BC’s research and innovation potential, advance new opportunities and help drive economic growth though a commitment to stable funding and support for BC’s Knowledge Development Fund.

In a separate submission, Joanne Curry, associate VP-external relations and executive director of SFU Surrey, asked the province to reaffirm last year’s committee recommendation to double the size of the SFU Surrey campus from 2,500 to 5,000 student full-time-equivalents (FTEs).

Curry also asked the committee to recommend that the government proceed with the first phase of the expansion—800 student FTEs—starting in 2013.

She said SFU’s top growth priority is the Surrey expansion, noting it is the only B.C. research university planning to significantly grow its undergraduate student population, given its Surrey campus location in one of Canada’s fastest growing regions.

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