On Campus

How the west has won

Expert says eastern schools are losing research race

Edmonton skyline by Bulliver on Flickr

“The intellectual centre of gravity of Canada is shifting west much faster than people realize,” Alex Usher, president of Higher Education Strategy Associates has told The Ottawa Citizen.

“Twenty years ago, you could have made a case that three or four of the top seven or eight universities in the country were in Ontario. I don’t think you could make that claim today,” he said.

Western schools are getting more highly prized funding, says Usher. For example, the federal government offered four of its 19 new $10-million Canada Excellence Research Chairs to the University of Alberta, while Toronto and Waterloo got two each and Ottawa got one.

Although Vanier Scholarships are much smaller at $150,000 each, it’s worth noting that no region dominated that contest. The University of Toronto, McGill University and the University of British Columbia earned 29, 25 and 25 respectively. The University of Alberta got 11.

It’s also worth noting that Usher’s comments come just three days before the provincial election in Ontario, but he is not endorsing any party. None of the three major parties has promised more core funding for post-secondary education, which he said is akin to a freeze over the next four years.

“I am bleak about Ontario,” he said. “This is what happens when you have a $15-billion deficit.”

HESA is a Toronto firm that conducts post-secondary data collection and strategic development.

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