Almost seven months after coming into office, Line Beauchamp Quebec minister of Education, announced in an interview with Le Devoir that McGill would face “financial consequences” for increasing tuition in their MBA program this year.
This week numerous media outlets confirmed Beauchamp’s intention to penalize the University for increasing tuition from approximately $2,000 a year to $29,500 a year for the two-year program. The announced tuition marks an increase of roughly 1,163 per cent.
“For us, it is not acceptable that a regular MBA sees such tuition fees,” said Beauchamp in the Devoir interview.
The provincial government has been threatening to punish McGill for the cost of its MBA program since the University made the announcement in the fall 2009.
Last spring, then-Minister of Education, Michelle Courchesne, threatened to cut McGill’s funding by $30,000 for every Quebec student registered in the program. She accused the University of violating Quebec’s educational accessibility policy.
The proposed penalty was based on two grants McGill receives annually from the provincial government – $19,000 to McGill’s general operating budget and $11,000 to the Desautels Faculty of Management – for each Quebec student registered in the MBA program. No concrete action was taken.
McGill Director of Media Relations Doug Sweet said the University has no comment on news reports related to the Quebec government’s position on the MBA tuition issue this week.
Since it announced the tuition increase, McGill has maintained that the increase will close a roughly $10,000 funding gap between what students pay and the cost of running the program. Formerly the MBA program was subsidized with tuition revenue from undergraduate programs.
The University also argues that the tuition increase will allow McGill to better compete with other elite private business schools like Harvard, where annual tuition is more than $50,000.
According to a CBC report, Beauchamp has requested a list of students registered in the MBA program in order to calculate financial penalties for the University. There are currently about 120 students in the MBA program.
SSMU VP External Myriam Zaidi said that despite Beauchamp’s recent remarks, the minister has still not given enough information.
“I think she just wanted to answer to a lot of people’s concerns about what was happening with this, about whether this was a dead issue or not,” said Zaidi. “Right now they’re saying, ‘Yeah, yeah, we’ll still penalize the program. I just want to be clear about that. When? To what extent?” she asked.
Zaidi also expressed frustration over how long it has taken the provincial government to respond to the tuition increase. She pointed out that the government has not provided students registered in this year’s program sufficient financial support.
“I think it’s frustrating that they haven’t found a solution after all this time,” said Zaidi, “especially since we found out three weeks ago that Quebec students aren’t even receiving any governmental financial aid.”
Zaidi was skeptical that a financial penalty from the provincial government would result in McGill overturning their decision on MBA tuition hikes.
“Hopefully it will overturn their decision, however [McGill will] probably play again the victim of a lack of funding and the victim of under financing of universities,” she said.
The Dean of the Desautels Faculty of Management, Peter Todd, was traveling at the time of press and could not be reached for comment.