VIU Supports Federal Budget's Investments in Students and Innovation

March 29, 2017 - 12:00pm

The 2017 federal budget supports key areas of focus at VIU, including support for Indigenous learners, increased access to post-secondary education and investments in skills development and research

Vancouver Island University (VIU) President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Ralph Nilson says new investments outlined in the 2017 federal budget will increase student access to post-secondary education, strengthen skills development, help foster new research and innovation opportunities, and reinforce VIU’s commitment to supporting Indigenous learners.

The federal government’s proposal to increase funding to the Post-Secondary Student Support Program by $90 million over two years will increase the number of Indigenous learners accessing higher education. This fund, which helps pay for tuition, books, travel support and living allowances for eligible students, will support more than 4,600 Indigenous students across Canada. The budget also includes an additional $5 million per year in funding to Indspire, an Indigenous-led organization that delivers scholarships and bursaries for First Nations, Inuit and Métis students.

“Helping Indigenous learners achieve the education they seek is a key area of focus for VIU, and towards that goal, we have worked to make sure they see themselves reflected at VIU and in post-secondary education,” says Dr. Ralph Nilson, VIU President and Vice-Chancellor. “Education is the key to reconciliation, and we are happy to see this support for Indigenous students from the federal government.”

Budget 2017 includes several other investments that will help bring post-secondary education within reach for people in the communities VIU serves. To help ensure Canadians can stay current in their training and adapt to take on the jobs of the future, the budget expands eligibility for Canada Student Grants for part-time students and those with dependent children. Government will also explore ways to make it easier for adults who wish to return to school after several years in the workforce to qualify for financial assistance.

“Access to education is a core value at VIU and Budget 2017 reflects that focus on making higher learning accessible to those in our community who may not otherwise have the means to access it,” says Nilson. “In today’s knowledge-based economy, higher education is vital to improving job prospects and boosting the economic well-being of our communities. We are pleased to see this budget recognizes that.”

A pilot project will explore ways to increase awareness of the Canada Learning Bond program. VIU has been working to promote this program since 2013. Since that time, the University has been able to help hundreds of families set up RESP accounts with free federal funds.

“Unfortunately, there are still more than 9,000 children eligible in our region,” says Nilson. “We hope this funding will help us connect with those families.”

As outlined in the Academic Plan, VIU’s core values include a commitment to skills development and community-based research. Budget 2017 will help the University fulfill this mandate with its proposal to provide $225 million over four years, starting in 2018-19, and $75 million per year thereafter, to establish a new organization that will identify the skills sought by employers, explore new, innovative approaches to skills development and share information and analysis that will help inform future skills investments and programming.

“As a regional university, VIU focuses on developing programs that meet the needs of the communities we serve and we have forged vibrant partnerships with industry, First Nations communities and other organizations to ensure our programs stay responsive, relevant and innovative,” says Nilson. “We are also excited about the creation of roughly 25 Canada 150 Research Chair positions, which will attract more top researchers from around the world to come to Canadian institutions.”

For more information on Budget 2017, please visit Click here to view the Universities Canada media release.



Jenn McGarrigle, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P: 250.740.6559 | C: 250.619.6860 | E: | T: @VIUNews

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