This letter was published in the Moncton Times & Transcript in response to the editorial “Too many N.B. universities, not enough young people” published on February 25, 2015.
By Paul Davidson, president, Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada
Yesterday’s editorial highlights the need for universities to be responsive to demographic and economic changes, and to innovate.
Students today demand choice and New Brunswick’s universities offer tremendous diversity and quality across the disciplines. In focus, languages, geography and size, they offer the choice in programs and experiences that allow students to find their best pathway to a rewarding career – be they from New Brunswick or New Delhi.
In every recession we see shifts as higher education responds to economic changes. The downturn that took hold in 2008 is no exception. Students are also responsive to change, gravitating to disciplines in higher demand. And in all fields, today’s undergraduate experience is more research-intensive, global and experiential than ever. Half of all Canadian university students across all disciplines now complete at least one co-op experience, practicum, and internship or field placement by the time they graduate.
While the population of youth 18 to 21 is projected to decline by a little more than 10 percent in the region between 2015 and 2022, it stabilizes after that point. Small increases in participation rates and attracting more international student and greater interprovincial mobility can erase the impact of that decline. And as we have seen in provinces like Saskatchewan, projected population declines can themselves be reversed if the economy grows.
New Brunswick’s universities today are hubs of innovation, increasingly connecting with partners in the private sector to help companies grow and give students hands-on experiences. They’re working with industry and other partners to develop more sustainable forestry practices, advance research on aging, and learn how ocean ecosystems relate to climate change.
In the face of sharp demographic and economic changes, innovation is vital if our communities are to rebound and thrive. And universities are at the heart of innovation.
Tagged: Research and innovation
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