On Campus

Post-secondary research spending stalls: Statcan

Investment drops in real terms for the first time in a decade

Universities, governments, businesses and non-profit donors combined to spend an estimated $9.6 billion on post-secondary research and development in 2006-07, according to a Statcan report released on Aug. 14.

That represents a nominal increase of only about $100 million (or 1.1 per cent) from 2005-06 levels, the smallest increase in a number of years. R&D spending jumped 5.1 per cent the year before and 10.5 per cent the year before that, when funding was about $8 billion.

In real terms, however, the picture looks quite different. Buried in the report is a measurement of funding using 2002 dollars as a constant that indicates that post-secondary research funding actually dropped between 2005-06 and 2006-07—falling to $8.5 billion from $8.6 billion. That constitutes the first drop in over a decade.

Spending on R&D has more than doubled in real terms since fiscal year 1993-94, when stakeholders combined to invest $4.2 billion, but it has increased by only $35 million since 2004-05.

Institutions in Quebec and Ontario collected two-thirds of total nominal 2006-07 fundingabout $6.6 billion—with Ontario netting about 42 per cent. Saskatchewan was not as lucky. That province has not benefited from an increase in funding since 2002-03. Its funding fell to $215.4 million last year, about a one per cent drop nominally from the year before and, in real terms, a 26 per cent drop from 2002-03 levels.

Natural sciences received 41 per cent of funding, health sciences netted 39 per cent, and social sciences received 20 per cent of funds.

Universities traditionally invest the most in research. They contributed 46 per cent of spending in 2006-07, consistent with levels since 2003-04. The federal government spent almost $2.5 billion, about 26 per cent of total funding. That share has also not changed much since 2003-04. Provincial governments spent $992 million, about 10 per cent of total funding. Businesses and non-profits accounted for a further 16 per cent of funding. Foreign groups provided the remaining one per cent of investment.

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