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Stop the feds from earmarking SSHRC funds for business-related degrees

February 12, 2009
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You might want to check out the recently formed Facebook group, Stop the feds from earmarking SSHRC funds for business-related degrees! As of this writing it has 1,915 1,962 members. Read on for a description of the group:

The Canadian government has placed a very nasty and apparently ideological condition on temporary funding increases for graduate studies in the arts and social sciences in its 2009 budget.
NSRC (science) and CIHR (health) get about 80% of these temporary funds, while SSHRC, the main funding body for graduate studies in arts, humanities and social sciences gets 20%. That might be understandable, given the higher costs of research in science and health.

However, the additional SSHRC funding is to be made available only for “business-related degrees.”

Why does Canada need $17.5 million more worth of business grads, and not, say, poli sci, native studies, or English grads? I strongly question the assumption that grad students in the humanities and social sciences, who know how to communicate, analyse, and think creatively, are worth less to the Canadian economy than MBAs.

Here is the offending passage from the federal budget section on “Further Developing a Highly Skilled Workforce”:

“Budget 2009 builds on investments made in the previous two budgets by providing an additional $87.5 million over three years, starting in 2009–10, to the federal granting councils. This funding will temporarily expand the Canada Graduate Scholarships program, which supports Canada’s top graduate students. This includes $35 million for each of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and $17.5 million for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. These funds will provide for an additional 500 doctoral scholarships, valued at $35,000 each per year for three years beginning in 2009–10, and an additional 1,000 master’s scholarships, valued at $17,500 each for one year, in both 2009–10 and 2010–11. Scholarships granted by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council will be focussed on business-related degrees.”

In spite of some progress in infrastructure funding for universities and the arts, it looks like the Conservatives haven’t quite got the message yet about the importance of the arts, social sciences and humanities to the Canadian economy… let alone the Canadian soul.

Let’s tell them, shall we? Write or email the Canadian Federation of Students graduate caucus; Chad Gaffield, the President of SSHRC; your professional association; your University president; your local MP, opposition leaders and party post-secondary education critics, and, hey, why not? Prime Minister Stephen Harper himself.

Addresses are found in the discussion topics on this page.
Please see the links in the discussion topics for more detailed information and updates on this issue. The CAUT analysis suggests that the funds are not even “new”– they are a portion of “savings” being returned to the granting councils after a “program review.”

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