“Like Talking to a Wall”

ConU Scrambling to Prepare for Cancelled Tuition Hike

  • Photo by Sam Slotnick

Patrick Kelley, Concordia’s Chief Financial Officer, has been tasked with putting together the jigsaw puzzle that is the university’s budget—but the Ministère de l’éducation, du loisir et du sport is holding the final pieces.

The Parti Québécois has vowed to cancel the $1,625 increase in tuition fees instituted by Premier Jean Charest’s Liberal government in 2010, but they haven’t announced when, or how.

“Budgeting at Concordia is sort of like giving birth to a small elephant,” admitted Kelley. ­

Quebec’s post-secondary institutions have now been thrust into financial limbo. With Premier-Elect Pauline Marois slated to be sworn in on Sept. 17, university budgeters across the province will have to wait until at least then to get any directions from the Ministry.

“With budgets, there is a constant process of revising because it is what it is,” said Concordia spokesperson Chris Mota. “Right now we need to get the absolute clarification of what we have coming our way this year. [Kelley] will do what he is expected to do. He will advise accordingly.”

The only indication of impending tuition talks has come from Marois, who promised student groups that a summit would be scheduled within the first hundred days of the PQ’s term.

With tuition fees due on Sept. 30, Kelley is forced to base his financial plan on numbers that are set to become irrelevant.
“It’s like talking to a wall,” Kelley said of trying to communicate with MELS.

The CFO has managed to keep ConU’s books in the black for three years running, but faces a new challenge in continuing the streak.

“The goal is to avoid a deficit. How that will be done is being examined right now, so they’re looking at scenarios,” said Mota.

She also assured The Link that quality of education will not be affected by the subtraction of the funds that they were slated to receive from the hike.

“The one thing that is definitely a commitment from the senior administration is that academic activities and student services should not be negatively affected. That’s the commitment. So what will be the effect elsewhere? That’s not clear, but the goal is to certainly not negatively impact those two areas.”

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