Montreal, December 2, 2010 - The Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities (CREPUQ) today made public a study showing that the Quebec university sector is under-funded, compared to universities in the rest of Canada. For 2007-2008, the shortfall was an estimated $620 million, net of funds earmarked for financial aid.
“Under-funding has been an ongoing problem for many years, and it is jeopardizing the quality of education, teaching and learning conditions, the intensity and efficiency of university research, as well as Quebec’s overall productivity and competitiveness,” said Denis Brière, Chair of the CREPUQ Board of Directors and Rector of Université Laval.
A dynamic, productive university sector benefits society as a whole. It is therefore entirely reasonable for society (through government grants), students (through tuition fees) and the private sector (through philanthropy and other means) to be called upon to join forces and support the university system.
CREPUQ proposes that funding for Quebec universities be the subject of long-term planning with a view to at least achieving parity with the rest of Canada no later than 2019-20. This would involve a two-phase approach.
First, intergenerational equity must be ensured. There can be no solution to the problem of university under-financing without an increase in tuition fees, as the government has already acknowledged in its most recent Budget Speech, which announced tuition hikes starting in fall 2012. In real terms, it costs less to attend university today than it did in 1968-69, because tuition fees have not been adjusted for inflation since then. Given the situation, CREPUQ believes that tuition fees must be adjusted to the equivalent of their real 1968-69 value.
Based on this presumption, tuition fees would increase $504 per year for three years, rising from $2,168 in 2011-12 to $3,680 in 2014-15. At that time, they would still be lower than today’s average in other provinces.
Phase two would involve beginning immediately to take steps to achieve at least the Canadian average. The government would have to determine how an increase in operating grants, an additional hike in tuition fees, a possible increase in the private sector contribution or a combination of all three could be arranged to achieve at least parity with funding in other Canadian provinces by 2019-20, and maintain parity thereafter.
“Maintaining access to a university education is a priority for CREPUQ. Any increase in tuition fees must be accompanied by appropriate financial aid measures to ensure that no student who is willing and able to attend university is prevented from doing so for financial reasons,” added Daniel Zizian, President and Director General of CREPUQ
Under the circumstances, Quebec university principals and rectors would like the following three proposals to be considered: a) 25% of any tuition hike should be set aside for income-based student financial aid; b) the establishment of a significant budget as part of a donation-matching program; the purpose of this budget, which could be about $100 million over three years in additional credits, would be to increase donations and create institutional bursary/scholarship funds; c) the possibility of establishing an income-based mechanism for the repayment of student loans.
The study on how university financing in Quebec compares to that of other Canadian universities from 2000-2001 to 2007-2008 and the analysis and reflection document presented by CREPUQ at the Rencontre des partenaires en éducation are available at the CREPUQ website: http://www.crepuq.qc.ca/spip.php?article1277
CREPUQ includes all Quebec universities. The organization acts as their voice in relations with government and milieus concerned with university education and research. It also fosters coordination and collaboration between universities, is a research centre for university administrations, acts as a centre for coordination and joint service delivery, and is a resource centre and think tank for its members.
Chantal Pouliot, Director of Communications
Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities
514 288-8524, ext. 244