Lajeunesse calls for end to tuition freeze

Barbara Black

Addressing the Quebec parliamentary commission on education on Jan. 23 on behalf of Concordia are (from left) Institutional Planning Director Bradley Tucker, VP Marcel Danis, VP Louise Dandurand, President Claude Lajeunesse and Provost Martin Singer.

Gilles Fréchette

President Claude Lajeunesse has recommended to the Quebec government that tuition be raised, particularly for students whose income is likely to be relatively high.

The suggestion of a sliding scale of tuition was part of a presentation to the parliamentary commission on education of the National Assembly on Jan. 23, the first such presentation by a Concordia president since September 2003.

Lajeunesse told the MNAs of the renewal of Concordia’s senior administration and faculty. He provided a statistical snapshot of Concordia: 6,316 employees, including 1,722 professors and instructors in four faculties, and 44,533 students (in 2004-05). He added that while it is an anglophone institution, Concordia is welcoming more and more francophones.

He said research occupies an increasingly significant role at Concordia, and 400 researchers have been hired in the past decade. Concordia has done a good job of managing its finances, students, staff and real estate. It has made impressive achievements without exceeding its budget.

“However, if the government were to finance our real estate program according to its own standards,” said Lajeunesse, “ The $13.5 million we now pay in interest on $200 million in bonds would become available for the priorities shown in our academic plan.

“The province’s university network has an annual deficit of about $400 million.

“The Quebec government has proven its commitment to higher education by injecting an additional $90 million into the network. [It is hoped] that this reinvestment program will continue; that the difference will be made up from tuition fees; and that the beneficiaries of the education system will be asked to assume a greater role in financing their studies.

“Tuition fees are too low, less than half than those in Ontario, [where] tuition for medicine, law, engineering and management, whose graduates can expect to earn more, are higher than those in liberal or fine arts.

“Such an increase would allow us to be more responsive and more competitive in the Quebec higher education market and internationally.”

For more on this presentation, go to