Heated debate on university financing at McGill Higher Education Summit

December 4, 2012

Some McGill University student societies held a forum Monday and Tuesday for the university community to discuss key issues relating to the Quebec Summit on Higher Education taking place in February. The Montreal Gazette reports that Monday's afternoon session on university financing got a little heated, with a pair of economists disputing the students' argument that accessibility would suffer with a tuition hike and arguing that students -- the primary benefactors of a university education -- need to contribute more to the cost. After an executive of the student group FEUQ said lower tuition is needed because students are so stressed about their debt level, the president of the Centre for Interuniversity Research and Analysis on Organizations (CIRANO) interrupted to ask why someone else should pay. "If not the students, why put it on someone else, on taxpayers?" he demanded. He said the province acknowledges it is a beneficiary of universities by currently contributing more than 85% of the cost of education. CIRANO's president said after the panel discussion that he is disappointed and discouraged by the level of the debate from student leaders, and is consequently "pessimistic" about any real solutions coming out of the February summit. The Counseil du patronat du Qu├ębec's head economist also argued the cost of education needs to be more proportionate. "It should be proportional to the beneficiary," she said. "Society gets a big benefit, but so does the graduate." But the FEUQ executive maintained that tuition hikes are a big deal for students and that the province needs to invest in their youth to ensure the future. PGSS News Release | Montreal Gazette