MONCTON – The City of Moncton and Université de Moncton signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) aimed at strengthening their relationship in areas including recreation, education, infrastructure, events, research and the attraction and retention of international students.
The city also contributed a total of $2.5-million over 10 years to the university’s Évolution Fundraising Campaign, which was launched two years ago and aims to raise $50-million for infrastructure, research activities and scholarships, among other things. So far, the campaign has raised over $30-million.
“The city of Moncton has supported the university in the past for previous campaigns, but this is the first time that we had an agreement, some strings attached, some deliverables that we wanted to achieve through giving this money. Investing this money,” Mayor Dawn Arnold said.
The city wants $500,000 each to go to the City of Moncton Scholarship Fund and the City of Moncton Immersion Scholarship Fund. The same amount will also go to new funds, including the International Students Integration Fund and scholarships for university athletes from Moncton.
Another $500,000 will be used for the digitization and publication of archives from the Centre d’études Acadiennes Anselme-Chiasson. Mayor Arnold said the money had already been budgeted by the city.
“[The deal] is very closely connected to some objectives that we have as far as increased tax assessments and growth in the city. We’re very pleased to do it,” Mayor Arnold said.
For instance, the integration fund will help the city retain international students, who eventually contribute to the labour market.
“[International student retention is important] because we have a labour shortage in New Brunswick. We need highly skilled workers and professionals to fill jobs that are here in the community,” said Jacques Paul Couturier, Interim President and Vice-Chancellor of the Université de Moncton.
Mayor Arnold cited Projet Jumelage as an example of an effort to make international students feel more at home in Moncton. The initiative, which pairs local families with an international student, is already funded currently and isn’t part of the Integration Fund. But she’s hoping the money would help finance similar “more intentional” ways to help international students integrate.
“We had heard consistently that they had a lot of challenges and we really want to integrate them into our community. We want them to become part of our community. A lot of them want to stay here but they were really struggling with sometimes learning English, sometimes integrating properly. So this will help them to integrate to network in our community,” she said.
“Sometimes we need to encourage people to step out of their comfort zone and invite newcomers into their homes,” she added.
Other objectives of the MOU include the development of the university campus “to ensure quality education for Moncton’s workforce and to boost business opportunities in the city,” and the “joint development and use of amenities and facilities” for students and Moncton residents. The MOU will be reviewed annually.
While research is mentioned in the MOU, no specific project is in the works yet. But Mayor Arnold said the university could be a resource when the city looks for solutions. Urban planning, data analytics and transportation are possible areas to be explored.
“It’s more of a situation that when things come up, or [there are] challenges at the city, and we’re trying to figure things out…to be able to speak with researchers here and see if there is a way to collaborate on those research projects,” she said. “Because the Memorandum of Understanding does say we’ll have a minimum of one research project with the university in a year.”
The university also announced its support for the “Our Urban Heart” fundraising campaign for Avenir Centre, which encourages residents to donate in exchange for a seat engraved in their name.
Université de Moncton bought six seats in the name of various organizations on campus, including its male and female athletic teams, the international student association, the student council and the alumni group, among others.