Two minutes on quality and governance

Prof. Heather Munroe-Blum
Feb. 25, 2013, delivered at Quebec's Sommet sur l'enseignement supérieur

All students should have access to a quality education. Accessibility and quality: there’s a great plan for our society.

The quality of universities must be based on best practices, in accordance with each university’s respective mission, and effective funding.

Quebec universities are expected to maintain a level of quality that is comparable with public universities elsewhere. This will not be possible for much longer with funding that is lower than our competitors’.

When it comes to academic affairs, quality matters are overseen by the senate of each institution.

And when it comes to management and strategic planning, that is the responsibility of each university’s board of governors.

Let’s be realistic. Right now, we are not doing what we need to do in terms of quality. We need to do a better job of funding and measuring quality. And we in Quebec also need to set objectives for ourselves.

Let’s put the accent on results, not procedures. The quality of programs and the graduation rate versus head count.

We need to have solid accountability, and that is possible, as the OECD has shown, by committing to respect a performance contract that would be signed by the government with each institution.

That contract must be connected to a broad vision for Quebec and our universities. It must reflect what each university can accomplish for Quebec. The OECD has shown that many regulations are not effective in obtaining a system of excellence.

We propose to offer incentives tied to productivity. That would be the best way to make sure that Quebecers’ money is used in a transparent manner.

On the question of governance, we support the formation of an independent body that would advise the government and the universities on orientations for the future. The key words are:

  1. an advisory body
  2. full respect for each university’s own mandate
  3. full respect for the autonomy of the universities and their boards of governors

As our minister said again yesterday,  Quebec’s universities are well managed.

We will reject any measure that would call into question the mandate, responsibility or composition of boards of governors.

The universities render transparent accounts to the government of Quebec on every aspect of their activities and their management.

We agree with the government when it wants to review criteria for reports to make them simpler, more efficient and more strategic.

In closing, let’s remember that the young people of Quebec are no different from young people anywhere else in the world.

They are open to the world and more mobile than ever. Their degrees must be of high quality so that they can turn their dreams into reality. We all want the best for our young people and for Quebec society.