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Fortier confirms 2015-2016 budget cuts at Board of Governors

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Increased budget cuts

Principal Suzanne Fortier confirmed a budget cut from the Quebec government for the 2015-2016 academic year at the Board of Governors (BoG) meeting on Feb. 2.

Fortier announced that she attended a meeting with representatives from other Quebec universities and the Deputy Minister of Education Marie-Claude Champoux on Jan. 21.  The meeting discussed the most recent report from the “Chantier sur la politique de financement des universités,” a working group that researches university funding policies in Quebec, and recommended substantial changes to the current funding formula for universities in Quebec. 

While the proposed plan by the working group was rejected by the university and government representatives at the Jan. 21 meeting, the Quebec government committed to using the report as a starting point for funding discussions.

“The positive news from our perspective is that I think the government is really intent on making changes to the funding formula in this province,” Fortier said. “So we are being cautiously optimistic about changes in this province regarding funding for universities.”

According to Fortier, McGill will work to prepare for a new funding formula by the province. However, she declined to reveal the details of the government’s implementation plan.

“The plan is to do our work between now and Fall 2015, leading to an implementation plan of the new funding formula in 2016,” Fortier said. “[We] still have a lot of work to do before we get to the implementation.”

Varsity eligibility review and student satisfaction

Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Ollivier Dyens gave his annual report, in which he revealed that McGill is in the process of reviewing and rewriting the university’s varsity sports principle and eligibility criteria for student athletes. The commitment comes in the wake of several controversies involving the McGill Redmen football team.

Student satisfaction

In addition, Dyens commented on student satisfaction at McGill, stating that the university had high student engagement in student governance, but has received criticism on its advising. Dyens also stated that students are increasingly feeling under pressure at McGill, which is something the university needs to pay attention to.

“Students […] want this university to be demanding, and this university actually is very demanding,” Dyens said. “We are working very closely with the associate deans to make the McGill rules and regulations a bit more understanding of some of the things students are going through [….] It is important we make the rules and regulations more flexible so students can take some time off. We’re not where we want to be, but we’re moving in that direction.”

Research funding and revenues

The BoG was also given an update on McGill’s research relative to other Canadian universities in Associate Vice-Principal (Research and International Relations) Sarah Stroud’s annual report on research performance and innovation. In her report, Stroud stated that McGill solidified its place in FY2013 as second in the country in research funding intensity—a measure that takes into account the relative size of universities—placing behind the University of Toronto. 

However, according to Stroud, McGill remains about average in Canada in terms of revenue from innovation and entrepreneurship.

“In terms of the inputs from our research, we’re doing really well,” Stroud said. “In terms of our outputs of our research into the community and market, we’re only about average. However, through the Quartier de L’Innovation and the McGill University Business Engagement Centre, we’re really making a concerted effort to improve.”

Renewal of health care contracts

The BoG also passed a motion that called for the approval of contracts of affiliation with health care bodies in Quebec. The motion renews McGill’s teaching and research relationships with its health care establishments, including its largest partner, the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC). The new contracts will be signed prior to Quebec’s Bill 10—set to be implemented on April 1—in which the government has proposed a revised structure for health care bodies.

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