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T-J piece on university research dollars:

November 6, 2008

And I quote:

FREDERICTON – New Brunswick’s two largest universities posted strong gains in research income last year, according to a recent survey.

The University of New Brunswick posted a 5.8 per cent increase in research income in fiscal 2007, and now ranks 25th in the country, a survey conducted by Toronto-based Research Infosource Inc.* showed.

Université de Moncton placed 45th in the country, and showed an 11.5 per cent jump in research income last year.

Together, the universities brought in $56.3 million, an overall increase of 6.8 per cent from fiscal 2006.

But despite the growth, New Brunswick universities continue to lag far behind the major academic research centres across the country.

The University of Toronto ranked first in terms of total revenue for the year, with $854.7 million in research. By comparison, the University of New Brunswick made $46.6 million and the Université de Moncton $9.7 million.

Still, there is some reason for optimism. UNB has shown steady growth in research income over the last several years. Between 2002-2007, its income has grown just under 80 per cent.

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* Re$earch Infosource Inc. in fact spells its name with a dollar sign.

My first thought is: Byjaysus! Don’t go spreading that around or Shawn Graham’s government will cut our operating grants even further, even though research money is restricted and not available for day-to-day operations. High level grants are enjoyed by particular disciplines, often in the sciences and other areas of interest to government and business, and have very little impact on the rest of an institution. Nor can they: they are awarded for specific and limited purposes.

My second thought is, why are N.B. universities being compared with the UofT? UofT is bigger than all N.B. universities and colleges combined; it has the largest endowment in the country by a significant factor; and it is powerful enough to be able to maintain a steady and supportive relationship with provincial governments. In other words, it is nothing like us. Rather, compare us with more similar institutions and the story changes considerably.

My third thought: why are we being criticised for “lagging far behind”? It’s a fricking miracle, given the destructive actions of the provincial government over the last year and a half, that we are still in the game at all.

My fourth thought is, surely a balance sheet is not the best measure of our success? I would like to see a T-J editorial about the difference UNB Saint John has made to this city in the past forty years.

Consider that a gauntlet, gentlemen.

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2 Comments
  1. Cicciolino permalink
    November 6, 2008 1:10 pm

    Yet, another example of the TJ and Brunswick News’ weak journalism and lack of real analysis of any depth! A similar comparison of the TJ with the Globe & Mail would be in order I think.. don’t you?!

  2. Linda Hansen permalink
    November 9, 2008 7:31 am

    I often ask my students this question: *Is that a lot?* If I ask it about the above numbers, the answer is easy: No.

    So how do I know? If I can win it in a lottery on Wednesday, Friday or Saturday night, then it isn’t a lot. Last week’s 649 was what, $40 million? Then, $47 million in research income for a university isn’t a lot — nice, but not a lot.

    Oh, and by the way, wouldn’t UNB’s endowment of what, $147 million, have dropped by about a third of its value given the drops in the stock / investment markets?

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