Western research gets $8 mil
By Anton Vidgen
Under the guise of Santa Claus, the Government of Canada arrived
early on campus with a jolly fat cheque to help Western and
its partners cover some of its research-related costs and support
efforts to be a leading research-intensive university.
An announcement made yesterday will see over $225 million
in funding nationwide — with over $8 million coming to
Western and its partners alone — go to reducing indirect
costs associated with federally sponsored research, said Joe
Fontana, member of Parliament for London North Centre.
“This helps the research funds get used to their maximum,” Fontana
said. “[But] these funds don’t come automatically — you
have to actually earn them.”
The annual grant will cover about 25 per cent of indirect
costs resulting from research activities such as utilities
and infrastructure, costs traditionally paid for out of Western’s
operating budget, said Nils Petersen, VP-research for the university.
The funding will be in place for three years and will be considered
part of the research budget for that time, he added.
Although Petersen said he welcomed the funds, Western will
continue to push for the funded percentage of indirect costs
to be raised to 40 per cent instead of the current 25.
But will granting these funds put less pressure on the federal
government to support research through traditionally competitive
grant programs? “So far they have promised [that the
funds] won’t detract and we hope they will continue [this
way],” Petersen remarked.
Fontana said he will convey these concerns to incoming prime
minister Paul Martin.
“We are very, very grateful for the announcement,” said
Western President Paul Davenport while acknowledging the considerable
lobbying efforts to bring about this funding change. “The
toughest nut to crack was indirect costs.”
A student group is further demanding full transfer payments
be re-instated. “It’s unfortunate that instead
of fully restoring funding, they’re going about it piecemeal,” said
Andrea Rounce, chair of the national graduate caucus for the
Canadian Federation of Students.