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Who’s driving the bus?

May 21, 2010

Picking up on CAUT’s criticisms of political intervention in university research with the CERC programme (see previous post), the following two stories provide confirmation, and ironic counterpoint, respectively:

One of the board’s key priorities for 2010-2011 is the creation of a knowledge cluster at Tucker Park. Saint John has an opportunity to capitalize on the synergies surrounding the health, education and ICT sectors in our city. For example, an Occupational Medical Research Chair in Saint John would be a catalyst for technology and innovation. It would also create more than 20 new high-paying positions in our city. The potential impact of this one position, a Research Chair, will further strengthen and diversify our economy.

Guess they didn’t read CAUT’s comments on the significant costs to, and redistribution of resources within, institutions which receive such chairs:

The CERC program imposes new costs on institutions and diverts resources internally. Dalhousie University, for example, will need to find $24 million over seven years to support the newly appointed CERC in ocean science and technology, more than double the $10 million the federal government is providing. The University of Saskatchewan is putting up $10 million to help pay for its CERC in water security, with the province providing a matching sum at the same time it is cutting funds for the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation. In effect, the CERC program is funding a handful of “stars” while other researchers are running out of funding, labs are being shut, staff are facing rollbacks, and courses are being discontinued.

You have to admit, though: it’s more subtle than actually shutting us down.

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