Cutting university funding reduces the value of our degrees

February 19, 2013

Collective opinion letter*

The Réseau HEC Montréal, representing the School’s alumni, is over 70,000 strong. The associations representing HEC Montréal students at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels have more than 12,000 members.

As the Summit on Higher Education is about to start, we want to join our voices as the heads of these groups, and openly express our concerns about the underfunding of our universities, the cuts they are currently facing, and the long-term impact on the quality and excellence of Quebec universities.

The Quebec government is cutting the basic subsidies needed for universities’ day-to-day operations, along with research funding, which goes toward graduate students’ scholarships and wages. In addition, the government is talking about freezing or reducing ancillary fees, with no other support for universities. These fees allow students, through their associations, to express their choices regarding the range of services they consider most important.

We firmly believe that failing to invest in our universities or, worse, cutting the funding available to them, will harm the quality of education, students’ experience and the value of our degrees.

Creating a top-notch university system has always been a goal in Quebec, and fortunately university access here is not restricted to the elite. For our part, we owe our thanks to Quebec society for having made it possible to create and develop a business school with an excellent reputation and an enviable international presence, one that leads to careers that meet students’ and graduates’ expectations.

But today we are worried. About the future not only of our own School, but of the entire Quebec university system. The reputation of a degree and that of the university that issued it are inseparable. We want future generations to be able to enjoy an education of the same quality, leading to a degree of the same value, here in Quebec.

This kind of education is impossible without the necessary investment. Because the world is changing, and our universities must change with it and keep up with their counterparts internationally – just as we students and graduates must. But the extent of the cuts announced in recent months is jeopardizing a wonderful heritage: challenging courses, advanced research, and essential support and student services, leading to degrees of which we can be proud. It is our duty to preserve and nurture this heritage.

It is not too late for the Quebec government to rethink its position, and to once again give our universities the financial support they need if they are not to be obliged to cut the programs, activities and services that underpin their reputations. It is a simple question of equality between generations. On this we all agree.

*Nassim Gasmi, President, Réseau HEC Montréal (alumni), William Lasserre, President, AEHEC (undergraduate students), Dragos Christian Cacio, President, AEPC (certificate students), Charles-Antoine Majeau, President, AECS (graduate and postgraduate students), Jean-Michel Beaudoin, President, AEMBA (MBA students)

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