Please read through the information below. The link to vote is at the bottom of the page. The ballot is open until Saturday May 12th at noon.
On the 5th of May, the Government of Québec signed an official document with representatives from all four Quebec-wide student associations, the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ), the Fédération étudiante collégiale du Québec (FECQ), the Table de concertation étudiante du Québec (TaCEQ, or Quebec Student Roundtable), and the Coalition large de l’Association pour un solidarité syndicale étudiante (CLASSE). This document is available here.
This agreement in principle adds 2 elements to the previous offer made by the government in April.
1) A provisional committe would make recommendations to the Minister of Education, Recreation and Sports, by December 31st 2012, regarding the composition and mandate of a permanent council on universities, to be legislated into existence in the future.
The provisional council would consist of 6 rectors from the Conférence des recteurs et des principaux des universités du Québec, 4 representatives from FEUQ, FECQ, CLASSE, and the Table de concertation étudiante du Québec (TaCEQ), 4 trade union representatives, 2 members of the business community chosen by the education minister, 1 representative of the Fédération des cégeps, 1 representative of the education ministry, and one president chosen by the education minister.
2) From Fall 2012 onwards, a $127 per semester fee increase – amounting to $254 per year – would be offset by a temporarily setting aside an equivalent $127 in ancillary fees from students’ bill. (Ancillary fees are all the extra fees charged to students by universities, for example the Student Services Fee or the Athletics and Recreation Fee; see below for links to more info.) This $127 offset would be conditional to the amount of savings the provisional council would be able to find when looking into ways of reducing university spending.
Using the fiscal regulations of the Minsitère de l’Éducation, des Loisirs et du Sport (MELS) as a tool for this purpose, the provisional council’s recommendations would be made to the Minister by 31 December 2012. Those recommendations would be based upon analysing the following parts of universities’ budget :
The creation of satellite campuses;
Issues regarding estate;
Transfers in between university funds.
Upon recommendation from this committee, it would be determined if recurrent savings can be made, and those savings would then be transferred to students as an offset using ancillary fee reductions to “compensate” for tuition fee increases.
The other measures announced in April 2012 would be additional to these proposals. The other measures of the global offer to students from April 2012:
A. The government offers to spread the previously announced fee increase over seven years instead of five.
The annual increase would drop from $325 to $254 (or 127$ per semester). In fact, since this increase would be adjusted to inflation, it would actually mean an 82% increase over 7 years instead of a 75% increase over 5 years, bringing the increase to $1778 in 2018 (instead of the previously announced $1625 increase).
B. Adding $39 million in bursaries
This is an enhanced version of the earlier proposal (April 5th) and has to do with the Quebec financial aid program (AFE):
• It increases the family income threshold of family revenue free from parental contribution from $ 35 000 to $ 45 000 during the calculation of scholarships. That means over 44 000 students will see their financial support increase. The last offer being for loans only, this one also offers more scholarships.
• For students whose parents earn $60,000 or less, a family contribution will no longer be a requirement for loan eligibility.
The cost of this measure is 39 million.
C. Linking loan payback schedules to income after graduation.
As it is done in Australia and other countries, the repayment of loans would be contingent to income, meaning that the more you make, the more you would be asked to payback in a year after graduating. No further details are provided.
D. Evaluating the effect tuition increases are having on students
The Advisory Committee on the Financial Accessibility of Education would be mandated to periodically assess the impact of rising tuition fees with regard to access to education. There are no further details on how this would be implemented.
For more information – announcements from the Quebec government (in French)
Information on Ancillary Fees at McGill
Which fees do you pay? (search according to your faculty and student status)
SSMU’s Analysis & Critiques
As prepared by SSMU’s Political Adviser & Executive Committee
1) No guarantee of a fee freeze
There is no guarantee that a provisional council would find recurrent savings based on the government offer as it stands. It is still possible that student would never see any money transferred to reduce their ancillary fees.
2) The president
The president of the provisional council would be appointed by the Minister. Since they would be asked to decide on a tie in the council, at there is no guarantee this person would be neutral and/or named by an independent body, this may prove problematic.
3) The balance of power
The student representatives would be out numbered by all other representatives on the provisional council, so there is no guarantee that they will have their say or that their voice will really be heard.
4) Powers of the provisional council
At the end of the process the provisional council would only make recommendations to the minister, who would then decide what course of action is to be taken.
5) Unclear impact of reducing ancillary fees
It is unclear how reductions to ancillary fees would affect students at McGill; ancillary fees currently fund many services for students.
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All SSMU members have been notified of the opportunity to cast their vote via email.
While over the summer it is difficult for SSMU to host a Legislative Council meeting, General Assembly, or Referendum, the SSMU Executive wanted to solicit the student body’s feedback. While not binding, the results from this survey vote will inform the position that SSMU will present to the Quebec Student Roundtable (in French, TaCEQ) and the provincial government.
The ballot is open from now until Saturday, May 12th at noon. SSMU will participate in a TaCEQ meeting on Saturday afternoon. Detailed comments and feedback are welcomed at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or email@example.com.