Province backs down from fine on McGill’s self-funded model

Published: 1 September 2011

McGill administration reached an agreement with the Quebec Ministry of Education two weeks ago, permitting the university to charge almost $30,000 over the provincial tuition cap for the Master of Business Administration (MBA) program.

Beginning next year, McGill will make several changes to the program, giving it an international business emphasis that qualifies it as a specialized program under Quebec law. Specialized programs are allowed to set their own tuition.

McGill previously charged $2,069 per year for its MBA, the provincial limit for tuition. In September 2010, the university moved the program to a self-funded model and raised tuition to $29,500. Tuition was increased to $32,500 this year, and Peter Todd, Dean of the Faculty of Management, told the Daily in March that McGill intends to continue to raise tuition to the Canadian average of roughly $37,000. Tuition is scheduled to increase to $34,750 by fall of 2012.

Todd was unavailable for comment, but Don Melville, Director of the MBA and Masters programs for the Faculty of Management, said in an email to The Daily the changes were made "to reinforce the program's strong international focus."

According to Melville, McGill's MBA program has already been recognized by the Financial Times as first in Canada in the international makeup of its professorial corps and the international mobility of its graduates.

The changes have ended a two year tête-a-tête with the provincial government that included a $2,011,719 fine in March for violating Quebec's educational accessibility policy.

In an August 19 press release, Minister of Education Line Beauchamp said the changes to the program "considered the requirements I made known last spring."

Accessibility still remains a concern for students. The Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ), a provincial student lobbying group and the Post Graduate Student Society (PGSS) issued a joint statement denouncing the government's decision the same day as Beauchamp's press release.

"By accepting the privatization of the program, [Quebec Premier] Jean Charest set back Quebec fifty years, when it was the size of the portfolio and not the intellectual merits which determined access to university," said FEUQ president Martine Desjardins. "We will not let him do it."

Beauchamp said McGill was not an exception, "as other Quebec institutions already offer programs of a similar status."

PGSS VP External Mariève Isabel said most Quebec universities also offer a public MBA program along with specialized programs.

"I do not know any other example in Quebec of a university offering only private MBAs," said Isabel.

"[McGill] can have all the specialized MBAs they want," she continued, "as long as they keep it accessible to students as well as in a public system. McGill is a public university, it's not a private university, and we want it to stay that way."

Pat Tenneriello, president of the MBA Student Association (MBASA), said he thinks the majority of MBA students support the tuition increases, and are in favor of the new changes.

Read full article: The McGill Daily, September 1, 2011


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