Investing in Innovators: CASA's Vision for Research and Innovation in Post-Secondary Education

The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) believes that all post-secondary students in Canada should have access to an affordable, high quality and innovative education. Accessibility and affordability means eliminating barriers to participation in all aspects of a post-secondary education (PSE), including in research. CASA believes that all students should have opportunities to contribute to the varied and dynamic research that happens in Canada’s post-secondary institutions. Some of the best research in Canada is already driven by students across disciplines and at all levels of study. Fully realizing the immense potential of students as researchers and innovators will help make Canadian PSE of the highest quality. 

 

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In 2010, the Science, Technology and Innovation Council of Canada (STIC) defined innovation as “...transforming knowledge into products and services that Canadians... need, want and will pay for.” This process has also been called agricultural extension, knowledge mobilization and technology translation throughout the last 150 years. While by no means a new concept, innovation in Canada has received renewed attention recently, with the federal government promoting the concept of innovation as “the path to inclusive growth.”

 

The 2014 STIC report proposed a three-pillar model for moving science, technology and innovation forward in Canada: people, knowledge and innovation. The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) believes that people should be the central focus of any innovation strategy in Canada. As a report on access to higher education in Canada notes, “[i]nnovation requires innovators.” Supporting innovation also means supporting research. As Canada’s Fundamental Science Review (hereafter referred to as the “Naylor Report”) aptly puts it, “[w]hile the work of full-time researchers in Canada and abroad is sometimes viewed as arcane, it is grounded in traditions of science and inquiry that have transformed our world for the better in recent centuries. These impacts have often been entirely unpredictable, as diverse discoveries were forged into inventions that catalyzed the creation of whole new economic sectors, or startling insights from social research coalesced into broad shifts in the evidence base for public policy.” Research and innovation at Canadian post-secondary institutions, whether discovery or applied research at colleges, polytechnics and universities, have time and again proven their value. What’s more, Canada’s post-secondary students are often key actors in, and indeed drivers of, these activities.

 

Anticipating growth in the need for innovative and adaptable post-secondary graduates, CASA envisions a future in which more students have access to opportunities to conduct high quality research and participate in the innovative cycle during their studies. CASA encourages the federal government to cultivate more opportunities for students to synthesize and mobilize new ideas and to participate in creative problem solving. 

 

Click here to read the full policy paper.