On March 3, the Government of Ontario announced $13.8 million in funding for infrastructure upgrades across the University of Waterloo ($6.4 million), Wilfrid Laurier University ($2.9 million) and Conestoga College ($4.6 million).
According to Ulrike Gross, Laurier’s Assistant Vice President: Facilities and Asset Management, this is the last of a series of three payments announced in 2019 to modernise educational infrastructure across Ontario.
Recipient institutions have varying infrastructure priorities depending on their program offerings and academic priorities.
As stated in a press release on MPP Kitchener-Conestoga’s website, the University of Waterloo intends to use this funding to “enable blended and online learning to support micro-credentials in data science, AI and STEM as well as to increase access to training and experiential learning for international students.” UW also plans to use the funding for assorted building upgrades for electrical, generator, or automation systems.
“We’re always happy to see additional funding for universities,” said Vincent Macri, MathSoc vice president, academic. “They’re very much underfunded in Ontario, which is unfortunate. I’m a bit perplexed the university is funding these new micro-credential programs. I’d much rather see [UW] focus their resources on [ensuring] existing programs are adequately supported before adding on these additional miniature programs.”
When asked what instructors in the math faculty would like to see, Macri suggested instructors would like equipment such as tablets or projectors that could facilitate flipped classrooms, group learning and other pedagogical innovations.
WLU intends to put its funding toward science and arts buildings in Waterloo and One Market in Brantford. “A good example is that we will be using the funds to improve the practice wing in the music building,” said Ulrike Gross, WLU’s assistant vice president of facilities and asset management. “This is a heavily used part of the music building and is outdated. The improvements will add more practice spaces and make them safer, brighter and more comfortable.”
Conestoga College’s funding will go towards a new health sciences lab at Doon campus, the new Skilled Trades campus opening in 2022, as well as roof repairs, boiler replacements and other classroom improvements. “The school of health and the trades are two examples [of programs] where we need to upgrade our equipment regularly. [The funding] allows us to take those priorities and make them happen,” said Jacinda Reitsma, Conestoga’s Vice President of Finance and Corporate Services.
“Funding like this is very important to colleges and universities because of the hands-on nature of our programs […]. In the trades, or a machine shop, the types of technology and equipment they would have needed twenty years ago are very different now. It’s a really key part to be able to invest where we need to.” Reitsma concluded.