December 3 , 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 53  

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Western research gets $8 mil

By Anton Vidgen
Gazette Staff

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.



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