Funding our universities:
Board of Trade furthers the discussion and reiterates the need for urgent action
Montréal, December 6, 2010 – As part of the Meeting of Education Partners on the future of universities, the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal is reiterating its position in favour of an adjusted increase in tuition fees, accompanied by mechanisms that ensure discipline and performance in the management of universities.
“Our universities have been suffering from chronic underfunding for some time now, said Michel Leblanc, President and CEO of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal. “The negative effects of this are increasingly felt. Our universities are losing momentum, which affects their attractiveness and ultimately the performance of our economy. This is why the Board of Trade thinks that the Government of Quebec must move the province’s tuition fees toward the Canadian average as quickly as possible. Urgent action is required: our universities desperately need a shot in the arm.”
“Contrary to the widely held belief, it is possible to increase tuition fees without compromising access to a university education,” said Michel Leblanc. “The most effective tool of social unity and mobility is a targeted, intelligent loans and bursaries program, which must be substantially increased once the ceiling is removed from tuition fees. As a point of reference, we believe that around 30% of new university revenues should be devoted to accessibility bursaries for deserving candidates.”
“We also believe that the government should allow universities to adjust tuition fees according to field of study,” said Mr. Leblanc. “This is first and foremost a question of efficiency, because this approach would guarantee better funding for more expensive programs that offer higher revenue potential. It is also a more equitable approach: students would make a contribution proportional to the cost of their own education. We must not forget that higher education is not an expense as such; many studies have shown that it is a very profitable investment, with an individual return that more than justifies wanting to preserve its quality.”
“But universities cannot be given a blank cheque,” said Mr. Leblanc. “We have to ensure they take advantage of this budgetary breathing room to become more effective. In return for the additional effort required of students, we need to better track university performance indicators.”
“Finally, in addition to maintaining the current level of public funding of universities in real terms, we believe that the government should explore tax incentives to increase philanthropic and corporate donations to universities and greater cooperation between universities and businesses,” said Mr. Leblanc. “These are two underexploited avenues that could expand the sources of funding for our universities.”
About the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal
The Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal is made up of some 7,000 members. Its mission is to represent the interests of the business community of Greater Montréal and to provide individuals, merchants, and local businesses of all sizes with a variety of specialized services to help them achieve their full potential in terms of innovation, productivity and competitiveness. The Board of Trade is Quebec's leading private economic development organization.
Coordinator, Media Relations
Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal
Phone: 514 871-4000, extension 4015