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Research revenue for Canadian universities continues to crawl

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A new report by Research Infosource Inc. suggests that while the research revenues for Canadian universities is growing, it is not growing at a great rate and one of the primary reasons behind this is reduction in government support.

The report Canada’s Top 50 Research Universities points out that there has been an overall decline in government support by 2.9 per cent including a drop of 1.9 per cent in Federal government funding, 3.8 per cent decline in provincial funding and a massive 19.5 per cent decline in foreign government support funding. The declining trend is limited to government funding as non-government funding saw a substantial increase and that’s the primary reason why there has been a 0.6 per cent increase in research revenue for financial year 2015 over previous year.

The funding for the fiscal 2015 stood at $6.71 billion. According to the report, this is the fifth straight year of minimal growth with 29 universities witnessing a decline in their research funding and just 21 universities managing to expand their research income. University of Toronto managed to ace the Top 50 charts with a whopping $998 million in research revenue during financial year 2015.

University of British Columbia managed to retain its second spot with $541.6 million in research revenue despite a one per cent decline over previous financial year. Université de Montréal, McGill University and University of Alberta are the other three universities that made up the top 5 tally. According to Research Infosource Inc. that compiled the latest results says that a few universities including Queen’s University, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Laurentian University managed to post significant gains in research revenue in 2015.

If we look at the regional rankings, universities in the Atlantic provinces are doing well in terms of combined research income, growing at a rate of 7.9 per cent over the previous year’s total. By comparison, Ontario schools combined to only produce a rise of 0.2 per cent, essentially flat over the previous year.

The University of Calgary is coming out as a strong university that has seen constant growth in research revenue over the past decade jumping from eighth place to sixth during the last five years. One of the reasons behind this is the priority to expand research capacities starting with the unveiling in 2011 of a five-year Eyes High strategy which targeted research areas such as mental health, brain injuries, infectious diseases, energy innovations and earth-space research.

Three Canadian universities received Research Infosource’s designation as “Research University of the Year,” which marks both research earnings and publishing impact and intensity. For medical/doctoral schools, U of T came out on top, for comprehensive schools, it was University of Waterloo and receiving the nod for primarily undergraduate schools was Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

The federal government is currently in the process of reviewing its funding framework for scientific research at Canadian post-secondary institutions. Under the auspices of Canada’s Fundamental Science Review Panel, the review is being led by former U of T president David Naylor and will provide its recommendations in December.

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