Universities in Canada will receive up to C$2 billion (£1.06 billion) to help them modernise their infrastructure, the government has announced.
The new Post-Secondary Institutions Strategic Investment Fund, which will be given to higher education institutions over three years from 2016-17, was announced last week in the first budget from Canada’s new Liberal government, led by Justin Trudeau. It will support up to 50 per cent of the “eligible costs” of on-campus infrastructure projects at universities and affiliated research and commercialisation organisations.
The government also earmarked an additional C$95 million a year for the country’s research-granting councils from 2016-17 – the highest amount of new annual money for discovery research in more than a decade, it said.
Elizabeth Cannon, chair of Universities Canada and president of the University of Calgary, welcomed the announcements. “This government understands that universities are best able to drive immediate economic stimulus and longer-term prosperity through infrastructure projects, through research and by ensuring students have the skills they need,” she said.
“We’re very excited that students and researchers will benefit from new research and innovation facilities and their improved environmental sustainability.”
In a statement, the Canadian Association of University Teachers said that it had raised concerns about “the former government’s direction in science policy that favoured narrow commercial interests at the expense of basic research and the broader public interest”. It added that the budget announcements from the Liberal Party were “a first step in the right direction”.
The budget also included a number of measures designed to make higher education more affordable for students. From 2016-17, state-funded bursaries, known as Canada Student Grants, will be increased from C$2,000 to C$3,000 per year for students from low-income families, and from C$800 to C$1,200 for students from middle-income families. Part-time students will also receive a C$600 annual increase to C$1,800. These increases were promised by the Liberal Party in its election pledges last year.
The student loan repayment threshold will also be increased from C$20,210 to C$25,000.
Earlier this month, the Canadian government announced amendments to legislation that will make it easier for international students to become permanent residents.