Universities: Key Actors in the Global Economy

Published: 10 March 2008

Strong universities will be essential to Quebec’s success in a globalized economy, McGill University Principal and Vice-Chancellor Heather Munroe-Blum told Montreal’s Council on Foreign Relations Monday.

Innovation is vital in an increasingly competitive world and universities, working with their specific strengths, can deliver the intellectual horsepower to propel the drive to success. It is crucial for Quebec to develop a strategy to harness this potential, Prof. Munroe-Blum said.

For regions, like Quebec, seeking to succeed in a globalized marketplace, it is absolutely vital to develop strategic areas of expertise that are in demand elsewhere – clusters of excellence that are recognized as having value on a global scale, Prof. Munroe-Blum said. We must, in other words, develop knowledge, products and processes – in key, strategic areas – that will attract global attention.

Strong universities, she said, are a cornerstone of such a competitive strategy. They attract financial and intellectual resources from around the world and provide the expertise and ideas to nourish the clusters that make city and regional economies internationally competitive.

“We are not going to generate revenues or win gold medals by making the same products and providing the same services as everyone else,” Prof. Munroe-Blum said. ”Only by adding value will we make our mark. The creativity to imagine these things, the knowledge to design these things, and the partnerships that will market these things, more often than not will emerge from our universities. Highly educated people, with the capacity and drive to innovate, are the key to our future prosperity.”

McGill, Canada’s leading research university, has two campuses, 11 faculties, 10 professional schools, 300 programs of study and more than 33,000 students. Since 2000, more than 790 professors have been recruited to McGill to share their energy, ideas and cutting-edge research.

McGill attracts students from 153 countries around the world. Almost half of McGill students claim a first language other than English – including 6,000 francophones – with more than 6,200 international students making up almost 20 per cent of the student body.

The Montreal Council on Foreign Relations (MCFR) is a non-profit, non-partisan, private organization established in Montreal, in 1985, by Professor Louis Sabourin. The Honourable Gérard Pelletier acted as its first President. Its mission is to promote greater knowledge of international affairs and encourage closer co-operation between the various entities in Montreal that share an interest in international matters.

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