Sunday, December 09, 2007

I've mentioned my skepticism

about this set of projections before, and there's added reason for skepticism when there's institutional self-interest and lobbying at stake. But noted for the record:

OTTAWA -- Universities need to increase their masters and doctoral students by 35 per cent in the next decade if Canada wants to avoid a crippling shortage in highly educated employees, including professors, warns a national post-secondary education group.

To that end, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada is lobbying the federal government for $319 million in new scholarship money annually, to be phased in over three years, to lure more masters and doctoral students from home and abroad.

Institutions are also increasing efforts to market Canada as an enticing destination for international students in hopes that if more come to study they will elect to stay in the country and join the high end of the labour force.

he association, representing 92 colleges and universities, recently made its pitch to the House of Commons finance committee as it hears submissions in preparation for the 2008-2009 federal budget.

"We're way, way, short. We need to produce more masters-trained and more PhD-trained students for the Canadian economy," Tom Traves, president of Dalhousie University and chairman of the association, said in an interview. "It's not a huge problem now, but it will be in 10 years."

Universities must turn out 500,000 new graduate students in the next decade -- 150,000 more than current projections -- if Canada is to keep pace internationally in the knowledge economy at a time when the country faces "a massive demographic problem" of an aging workforce, said Traves.

Not only are half the country's 40,000 professors on the retirement track and need to be replaced with other academics, the government and the private sector are also seeking more highly educated employees, said Traves.

Universities are pressing the government to create 2,500 scholarships for international students, which would cost $70-million annually when fully subscribed in three years.

On the domestic front, universities want Ottawa to pitch in another $105 million annually to entice students to pursue their masters and PhD's in Canada and another $144 million per year in scholarships for research.

On top of the scholarship funding, universities want another $50 million annually toward sponsoring new masters and doctoral graduates in work placements.