The McGill Daily: What are your thoughts on the tuition increases set to begin next September?
Maggie Knight: The tuition increases for Quebec students won’t pose a barrier to every student, particularly at McGill, where students on average come from relatively affluent backgrounds. However, a 2007 Quebec government report found that 12,000 students would choose not to attend university if tuition was raised to the Canadian average.
Access to a McGill education should be based on merit, not on means. While the University has pledged to use 30 per cent of every net new dollar for increased financial aid, this doesn’t address the issue of students who may not qualify for financial aid, but nevertheless face substantial financial barriers to pursuing their studies at McGill.
MD: What are your thoughts on the provincial government’s general funding of post-secondary education?
MK: Given McGill’s budgeted deficits, it’s clear we either need to re-evaluate spending priorities to reduce costs, or we need to gain additional sources of funds. When it comes to finding more revenue, we would, of course, prefer that the University stood with its students who are demanding the government find ways of financing post-secondary education in Quebec than raising tuition—through additional progressive taxation or through other means that respect the importance of publicly-funded post-secondary education.
MD: What feedback have you received from students about the tuition increases?
MK: There are many students who are very concerned, especially international and out-of-province students who don’t yet know what they can expect. McGill has a large number of students whose parents help pay their tuition and/or their living expenses, as well as a large number of American students who see McGill as a comparatively cheap option; these students obviously aren’t as personally affected by tuition hikes and don’t always think the hikes are a big deal.
MD: What action will you be taking on Quebec tuition in the near future?
MK: I will be continuing to support SSMU VP External Joël Pedneault in representing McGill students’ interests on the tuition issue. The SSMU has a policy in support of accessible education and continues to work with the Quebec Student Roundtable to present our concerns to the Ministry of Education, Leisure, and Sport. It is important that McGill students realize how tuition hikes will affect students across the province, and consider what role we can play in helping improve access to Quebec post-secondary education.