Common sense lacking in feud over MBA tuition hike

The latest round in the McGill administration’s ongoing feud with the Quebec government is much the same as the last. Predictable cries of “accessibility” are again pitted against claims of underfunding, as the sides face-off over a proposed tuition increase for McGill Master of Business Administration students. Suffice it to say, it’s starting to get old.

Early this year, McGill announced that the MBA program in the Desautels Faculty of Management would switch to a “self-funded model” beginning in Fall 2010. The move will see the faculty forgo funding from the Quebec government and cover costs by raising tuition rates to $29,500 per year for the two-year program. The increase in tuition will affect all students. Currently, Quebec students pay an average of $1,672.80 per year, while other Canadian students pay $4,675.68, and international students pay $19,890.

The 17-fold increase for Quebec students is admittedly gaudy, but those that oppose it on the basis of “accountability” are lacking common sense. The McGill administration claims that an MBA costs the school about $22,000 per student per year, which amounts to an annual shortfall of $10,000 per student after tuition and subsidies from the Quebec government are collected. It’s unfair to expect other students – like us – to make up that $10,000 when the average MBA student is 28 years old, works in private industry, and commands an average annual salary of $80,000 upon graduation.

Those who are outraged ignore the abscence of a convincing link between lower tuition and greater accessibility. They ignore the opinion of McGill’s MBA Students’ Association, who wrote in an email to the Tribune that they “support the change as being in the best long-term interest of the program.” And they ignore that the new tuition rate would be comparable to, or cheaper than, most top MBA programs in Canada.

While we acknowledge that this move sets a precedent for other dramatic tuition increases, the Tribune does not believe the MBA program can be accurately compared to the research faculties. An MBA is an investment that allows most businessmen to double their salaries – a benefit commensurate with the increased tuition. In a perfect world, a tuition hike wouldn’t be necessary. But if Quebec is unwilling to pay for the $10,000 shortfall, it’s time that they stopped opposing McGill’s real-world solution.

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