This year’s federal budget makes clear that higher education is vital and central to how the government sees Canada adapting to and succeeding in the future world of work.
Here are five programs introduced or enhanced in the 2019 budget that will impact higher education. Details for many new programs will be outlined over the coming months.
Work-integrated learning: As expected, the government is investing in helping far more students connect classroom learning with the workplace. By 2023, the government envisions another 84,000 new work placements for college and university students. Engineering and business students have long been able to combine classroom education with co-op learning, but the new plan envisions expanding placements to students in all disciplines. Including students from humanities and social sciences in work-integrated learning has been one of the key advocacy points from the Business/Higher Education Roundtable – of which the University of Toronto is one co-founding member.
Evidence is strong that WIL experiences lead to increased post-graduation employment, improvements in self-efficacy, and understanding of how classroom material can translate to workplace skills. “These significant investments in experiential learning are investments in Canada’s future,” said University of Toronto President Meric Gertler.
The federal budget also adopts another of BHER’s advocacy points: that every Canadian student have the opportunity to get a work-integrated experience. The endpoint for that goal is in 10 years.
Study abroad: The federal budget promises to invest $147.9-million in a new International Education Strategy, one that combines continued efforts to recruit students here and encourages Canadians to study abroad. Universities have called on the federal government to adopt an ambitious target of sending 30,000 students abroad in the next 10 years. Currently, only a tenth of Canadian students spend time studying abroad during their degree. The new funding will help provide the people-to-people relationships that seed future trade deals, an important goal as Canada seeks to diversify its economic links.
Fundamental Science Review: The budget continues to make progress on the federal government’s support of the recommendations of Canada’s Fundamental Science Review. A proposed $114-million to the federal granting councils will fund 500 master’s level and 167 doctoral level scholarships each year. The University of Toronto has advocated for full implementation of the Naylor Report including new money for graduate scholarships and post-doctoral placements. Success rates in federal grant competitions for graduate students are as low as 10 per cent.
Lifelong learning: The budget introduces the Canada Training Benefit, an individual, lifelong learning account (ILA). The Canada Training Benefit caps the amount of money that can be kept in the account, and gives workers employment protections to request a leave to upgrade their skills.
Post-Secondary Student Support Program: 327.5-million over five years has been allocated to the program, which supports indigenous post-secondary learners. Stable and growing funding will complement all universities’ efforts to provide students a culturally-appropriate curriculum.