Principal stands firm on MBA tuition

By McGill Reporter Staff

McGill is determined to implement a self-funded tuition model for its MBA program because the new structure will promote “accessibility, equity and quality,” Principal Heather Munroe-Blum told Senate at its April 28 meeting.

Media coverage of the issue heated up recently, after Le Devoir carried a story April 20 saying the Ministry of Education intends to claw back $28,000 for every student who pays the $29,500 annual tuition that the Desautels Faculty of Management will charge MBA students beginning with the entering class next fall. The penalty would be aimed at dissuading McGill from proceeding with the new tuition structure, a spokeswoman for Minister Michelle Courchesne told the newspaper.

But McGill has “no intention to turn back,” Munroe-Blum told Senate.

Under the new fee structure, all students in the MBA program will pay annual tuition of $29,500. Quebec students currently pay less than $2,000 a year in tuition, and Courchesne has criticized the increase as a potential impediment to accessibility for some students.

University officials emphasize that Desautels has committed to investing 30 per cent of net new tuition increases into student aid, thereby increasing scholarships to MBA students ten-fold, to an average of $4,000 per student. Yet the punitive measures announced by the Minister to the media would eliminate those funds for student support, Munroe-Blum said.

In a series of recent media interviews, the Principal and Desautels Dean Peter Todd noted that students typically enter the MBA program with about five years of work experience and earn an average annual salary of $104,000 three years after graduation.

Under the current system, government funding and tuition fees add up to about $12,000 per student in the MBA program. But the program costs $22,000 to run, leaving a funding gap of $10,000 per student. That means undergraduate programs from across McGill effectively subsidize MBA students, University officials say. And that subsidization would actually increase as a result of the punitive measures the Ministry has said it intends to impose.

Under the self-funded tuition structure, McGill would receive no government financial support for the MBA program, which would pay for itself.

Editorials published recently in La Presse, The Gazette and The Globe and Mail – as well as op-ed articles signed by a number of prominent Quebecers – have supported McGill’s initiative.

“We simply must make progress on this,” Munroe-Blum told Senate.

Senate also approved the previously proposed Sustainability Policy for the University. Following presentations of the draft policy to hundreds of community members from across the University through a consultation process that began last summer, only positive feedback was received, reported Jim Nicell, Associate Vice-Principal (University Services). Minor suggestions were made to enhance the wording of the policy in its final version.