Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, my name is Vaughan Dowie. I'm the executive head of public affairs at McGill. I'm with Sandra Crocker, who's the assistant vice-principal for research at McGill.
You have our brief. I won't repeat everything that's in it. I just want to highlight a couple of themes.
We would like to acknowledge the government's positive action to support the excellence of Canada's universities, especially through programs such as the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships, the Canada Excellence Research Chairs and the Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships.
From 1998 to 2008, the number of full-time professors in Canada increased by 25% from 33,700 to 42,000. Since the proportion of full-time students has also increased by 40%, the student-professor ratio continues to grow.
We recognize the role played by the higher education sector in research in Canada. The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada estimates the value of research at $10 billion with 55 to 60% of research being funded through external sources, especially through McGill's contribution. According to a recent study by SECOR Group, McGill generates economic spinoffs of $5.2 billion per year in the province. McGill has established a fruitful academic relationship with the industry, with companies like Bombardier, Saputo, AstraZeneca, and so on.
We have organized our brief around three themes, and I want to touch on those themes very briefly, because I know your time is limited.
The first is a theme that will probably be familiar to members of the committee who have been here year after year: the question of the indirect cost of research. We both support the direct costs of research through the various granting bodies, as well as organizations like the CFI and Genome Canada, and also the need to finance university research by having an equitable formula for the indirect costs of research. Our brief deals with that, and we're more than willing to answer questions about it.
The second is the question of the support for people. There have been a number of very, very interesting and exciting programs that the Government of Canada has announced recently, such as the Vanier scholarships, the Banting post-doctoral fellowships program, and the Canadian graduate scholarship program. Many of these have very short windows with a sunset clause, and we'd like to ask the finance committee to examine the extension of these programs.
In the end, as you know and have no doubt been told many times, graduate students will form the backbone of the workforce of tomorrow in Canada, especially in the knowledge economy. So the gestures that have been posed up to now, or that have been taken up to now, are well appreciated by Canadian universities, but we need to make sure those programs don't end, that they continue into the future.
I want to talk a little bit about supporting international and sectoral research collaborations. Innovation leadership of Canada and the ability to recruit and retain talent depend on successful collaborations in strategic areas with leading researchers and scholars in international research networks. Areas such as energy, green technology, digital media, e-health, nano technology are all critical areas for investment.
Innovation regions bring together leaders from different sectors--government, university, industry, and not-for-profits--leveraging the financial and human resources and the know-how from people of each sector. While universities have talents and facilities to play a leading role in establishing international research collaborations, federal government support is critical to developing, sustaining, and maintaining these collaborations.
Building these partnerships requires early stage investment and partnership development, an investment that is crucial to continuing selectivity partnered with the best institutions in the world. We need to be able to support these initiatives and investments.
Overall we applaud the investments to date and we encourage instruments to be put in place that will remain in place. We need flexible instruments around international collaboration that are able to react quickly to opportunities that arise both inter-institutionally and internationally. We urge the committee to look at these.
We're more than willing to answer any questions you may have.