Universities sometimes have a need to examine, possess and/or transfer controlled goods and technologies. This will almost always occur in applied research projects rather than undergraduate studies.
There are three factors to consider; public domain, general research and applied research.
Anything in the public domain is exempt from controlled goods regulations. The Controlled Goods Directorate defines the public domain as:
Information which is published and which is generally accessible or available to the public through sales at newsstands, through subscriptions that are available without restriction to any individual who desires to obtain or purchase the published information, through second class mailing privileges granted by the Canadian or U.S. Governments, at libraries open to the public or from which the public can obtain documents, through patents available at any patent office, through unlimited examination at a conference, meeting seminar trade show or exhibition, generally accessible to the public in Canada or the United States, through public release (i.e., unlimited examination) in any form after approval by the cognizant Canadian or U.S. Government department or agency and through general research in science and engineering at accredited institutions of higher learning in Canada or the United States where the information is ordinarily published and shared broadly in the scientific community. Such research will not be considered general research if the institution or its researchers accept other restrictions on the publication of scientific and technical information resulting from the project or activity, or the research is funded by the Canadian or U.S. Government and specific access and dissemination controls that protect information resulting from the research are applicable.
Undergraduate studies are clearly in the public domain as the courses are drawn from standard texts and resources and presented in a public university forum. It is possible, though, for an undergraduate student to become involved in a research project along with graduate students.
There are two types of research, general research and applied research. The Controlled Goods Directorate defines general research as:
Experimental or theoretical work undertaken principally to acquire new knowledge of the fundamental principles of phenomena or observable facts, not primarily directed towards a specific practical aim or objective. It does not include applied research and is subject to the following restrictions:
• The research is conducted without an application in mind
• The sponsor has no control over publication
• No material goods are transferred
That is to say, research that seeks only knowledge and not the creation something specific. General research projects are exempt from the controlled goods regulations, but they can lose their exemption if, as in the definition of public domain, the university has accepted restrictions on publication or the project is funded by the government which has placed access and dissemination controls on it. If either of these conditions apply, the general research project is no longer exempt from the regulations.
The second kind of research is applied research. The Controlled Goods Directorate defines this as:
A systematic study to gain knowledge or understanding necessary to determine the means by which a recognized and specific need may be met toward the goal of producing useful materials, devices and systems or methods, including design, development and improvement of prototypes and new processes to meet specific requirements.
That is to say, a project that attempts to build something tangible, such as a helicopter rotor or an encryption algorithm to decode the military band of a GPS satellite.
It is this type of research, usually conducted in partnership with industry or government that has the potential of encountering controlled goods and/or technologies. The designated official must investigate and monitor these types of projects for possible inclusion of controlled goods. If such items or technologies are present, the project must be included in the scope of the security plan.