Quebec demands universities cut $124 million in spending

December 8, 2012

Quebec universities say they have been blindsided by a directive from the PQ government demanding they cut $124 million in spending by April. The government says it is only asking the institutions to stay within spending estimates set out by the previous Liberal government. Had they done so, the universities would not be $124 million in the red. "It's not as if they didn't know how much money they were getting," says Quebec's Treasury Board president. A spokesman for the higher education minister cited an internal letter written by the Liberals and dating from June in which the Treasury Board called on the education ministry to reduce $265 million in spending at all education levels. University leaders and budget officers are adamant they never received the missive. "It never filtered to the universities. I guess they forgot about it. They didn't put that into effect," says Université Laval rector Denis Brière, who notes the move leaves his institution short $21 million in government funds. "Never, never, never were we asked to have a budget reflecting what the minister is saying right now." The Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities says university leaders will participate in the higher education summit in February, but that it "is very concerned" about how the cuts may affect university core functions -- a worry echoed by student organizations. "This will have an impact on students, for sure," says FEUQ's president. "[They will have to cut] services, teaching also...We'll have bigger classes, less possibility for bursaries for students." Globe and Mail | Montreal Gazette | CBC