On Campus

Top CEOs back McGill tuition hikes for business program

Quebec education minister stands firm on threat to reduce university’s operating grant

Business leaders are backing McGill in its decision to move its MBA program onto a completely self-funded model, and hike tuition to nearly $30,000, despite threats from the Quebec government to cut the university’s operating grant, the Globe and Mail reported.

In an open letter to Quebec education minister Michelle Courchesne, 45 of the province’s top CEOs write that the minister’s uncompromising position to cut funding to the program lest the school reconsider, is “encouraging mediocrity,” the Globe reported.

“We won’t build the future of Quebec by asking universities to choose between excellence and access,” the letter reads.

The controversy over the tuition hike hit in January when Le Devoir broke a story about a letter the minister sent to McGill principal Heather Munroe-Blum. In it, Courchesne expressed her disappointment in McGill’s decision to increase tuition for the MBA program to $29,500, writing the increase “contravenes the very principle of accessibility.”

Since then the minister has vowed to cut provincial funding to the program by $28,000 per student enrolled if the school refuses to abide by the province’s tuition rules. Tuition fees for Quebec students are currently less than $1,700, among the lowest in the country.

While Minister Courchesne is not backing down, and her aide Tamara Davis told the Globe that “no exception” can be made for McGill, Quebec’s powerhouse CEOs are standing up for the school. Their argument? Universities can’t be expected to exist on an equal playing field if they intend to attract and compete for talent.

The McGill Daily reported in September that McGill’s MBA students were informed of the tuition increase via e-mail by MBA director and professor Don Melville. Tuition would jump to $29,500 for September 2010 — more than a 1,663 per cent increase for Quebec residents, 531 per cent for out-of-province students, and 48 per cent for international students

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