In the wake of student protests against tuition hikes and the $325 per year increase in tuition fees included in Quebec’s provincial budget, you would think a $2 million fine imposed on McGill University for raising the tuition of its masters in business administration program would be praised by students.
Not the case.
On the contrary, after the Quebec government announced Monday it would fine the university by around $2.1 million, the McGill MBA students’ association came out against the imposed penalty and in support of increased tuition. A study conducted by the association has found that most students also back the decision made by their university’s administration. Seventy per cent of respondents said the price of $29,500 for their program was “reasonable or below reasonable.” In the accompanying press release, the MBASA stated, “We as the students believe that the increased costs are a necessary part of McGill’s efforts to make this program into one of the best of the world.”
The most recent development in a debate that has stretched for almost year has seen many parties taking similar stances. Suresh K. Goyal, professor of decision sciences and MIS at Concordia, strongly opposed the fine as well. “It is rather unfortunate that Education Minister [Line Beauchamp], instead of congratulating McGill for privatizing its MBA program in order for it to become competitive with the top MBA programs, has imposed a penalty of over $10,000 per student which amounts to over 33 per cent of the tuition fees paid by each student,” he said.
“This will force McGill to increase the tuition fees for its privatized MBA program still further,” Goyal continued. “I believe McGill should contest the penalty in a court of law.”
Goyal believes the tuition increase is necessary, arguing that because of low tuition, McGill would lose money in their MBA program, and would have to make up that shortfall by using money that would otherwise be going to undergraduate programs. At that point, he said, “You’re getting money from the government for the undergraduate program and you are using it to run the graduate program. It’s like the government giving milk money to a mother for her children, and the mother using that money to buy beer for the grown-up kids.” He added that with the increase in salary resulting in the completion of the MBA program, students at McGill could afford the tuition hike.
However, Concordia’s CASA-JMSB president Mitchell Robitaille said that while he understood that tuition cannot remain frozen forever, “I think it is absolutely ludicrous to raise tuition nearly 900 per cent. I don’t think it is reasonable to have a drastic increase from one year to the next.” When asked whether he would support a similar increase for Concordia’s MBA program, Robitaille said, “If Concordia were transparent and submitted a clear and detailed plan of how increased tuition would increase the value of my degree, I would be willing to make the increased investment.”
At Concordia, the cost to educate an MBA student is $60,000, while the average tuition per student is $5,000, according to media relations director Chris Mota. The starting salary of a graduate of the MBA program is roughly $75,000.