Volume 94, Issue 63
Wednesday, January 22, 2003

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Western's nine elitist buddies

By Paolo Zinatelli
Gazette Staff

An elite group of universities is beginning to raise some concerns within the Canadian academic community.

Known as the Group of 10 – or G10 – its members include Western, University of Toronto, University of Alberta, University of Waterloo, Queen's University, University of British Columbia, McMaster University, McGill University, University of Montreal and Laval University.

The group of research-intensive Canadian universities was formed over 10 years ago, with Western being an original member, said Western President Paul Davenport.

"The group was set up as an informal gathering – twice a year – of university presidents who face similar challenges and opportunities," Davenport said, adding the original group of schools was decided based on the amount of research and PhD grants each school participates in.

Jack Miller, associate VP-research at Brock University in St. Catharines, said smaller universities always feel [left out], whether because of a group like the G10 or another big university.

"There are decisions made by the G10 that [probably] don't affect the smaller schools," Miller said, noting it is harder for a small university to attract research funding, but not directly due to a group such as the G10.

"I don't see [the G10] as a threat," Miller said.

Membership in the G10 does not give Western competitive advantage in terms of attracting research dollars, Davenport said, adding research funds in Canada are distributed on a competitive basis to individuals.

"The primary benefit is [that] we share information as university presidents," Davenport said.

To say that research funds are given to individuals is mistaken, said David Robinson, associate executive director for the Canadian Association of University Teachers. "Research grants shift money from core [operating] grants," he said.

"[The G10] is certainly a concern," Robinson said. In Canada, the less research intensive universities are primarily undergraduate schools, he explained.

"Almost all of the post-secondary money [coming] from the government has gone into research," Robinson said, adding smaller institutions are uncomfortable with this approach.

"[Universities] don't do any lobbying [for research money] on their own behalf," said Leo Charbonneau, media relations officer for the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, adding lobbying is left up to AUCC.

The next meeting of G10 presidents will be hosted by Western this April, Davenport confirmed. "[We will] discuss opportunities we see in promoting teaching and research on our campuses," he said.

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