Digvir Jayas, the University of Manitoba’s vice-president (research), is calling on the provincial government to invest $60 million annually in graduate studies.
According to a university press release, Jayas said the investment would help make the U of M “an even stronger engine for economic growth.”
He also called upon the government to invest enough money in the university to double the graduate student population, which currently stands at approximately 3,000 students.
“At our university, the number of graduate students, master and doctoral, as a percentage of total student numbers, is at 13 per cent,” Jayas said in an email response, “whereas, for most research-intensive universities, this number is between 23 and 25 per cent.”
“Additional support for graduate students would help attract higher numbers,” he said.
Jayas called for the new funding in an address at last month’s Manitoba BOLD conference, an event hosted by the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce (WCC) that brings together Manitoba’s business leaders.
Noting the conference was sponsored by the WCC, Jayas explained that “at this point, no consultation has been done with the provincial government.”
However, Jayas added that there is a possibility that funding could come from elsewhere, as “strong research groups always attract significant funds from outside the province.”
Already the university houses nearly 900 research projects, collectively valued at over $93 million.
“The selection of areas for specific research goals,” Jayas said, “has to be done based on our existing strengths, in consultation with our faculty members and taking into consideration our provincial needs.”
Wayne Simpson, a University of Manitoba economics professor, said the faculty would welcome an influx of research funding.
“We could put that money to very good use,” he said. “We need money for IT; that’s certainly a concern. There are always problems with things like the library needing funding, the faculties and so on.”
However, he adds, government funding tends to flow into the general budget, and he would prefer to see a fund devoted exclusively to graduate research.
“This has been a longstanding problem with the university, in the sense that we call ourselves a research university,” said Simpson. “But our funding is low in comparison to other universities that we like to compare ourselves to.”
With a boost to existing funds, Jayas said the U of M will be “a choice destination for graduate students, which will help create a global reputation for the university.”