The University of Quebec in the government’s crosshairs

quebec-remet(QUEBEC) The head office of the Université du Québec (UQ) is in the crosshairs of the government Couillard, La Presse has learned. A reduction of its powers or its outright abolition, is envisaged.

Quebec would retain a central common services to establishments UQ network, according to a scenario under consideration. It would confide more autonomy to institutions like UQAM.

The Education Minister, François Blais, would not comment on that information yet. “There are too many assumptions and it is too early”, merely says the former Dean of Laval University. His entourage takes the saying goes: “It confirms nor denies the information.”

According to reliable sources, Quebec questions the relevance of the headquarters of the UQ, which oversees the 10 institutions in the network. The Ministry of Education has initiated work on this, but it indicates that the Treasury Board would be responsible for the operation. The Government is not at the stage of deciding on the fate of the head office. The time is rather on reflection, they say.

La Presse revealed in recent weeks that a new round of cuts would be needed in 2016-2017 to find $ 1 billion. The order made François Blais is $ 200 million. Changes in structures would be in the menu of the Treasury Board, they added.

The headquarters of the UQ receives 15 million in grants annually. Couillard The government has to impose a cut 1 million. This adds to the share UQ had to take cuts of 72 million requested from all universities this year. It’s about $ 350,000. To offset some, the salaries of officers and other employees of the head office was reduced during the summer.

“More expensive”

Joined by La Presse, President of UQ, so the owner of the registered office, Sylvie Beauchamp, argues that the government’s plan, far from leading economies, “would cost more” and “weaken the regions.” The administrative costs of institutions would rise because they would take over some functions of the head office. And the government would end up having to repay a loan of 14 million, she said.

“The expertise we have in common is a strength of the entire network. Each institution is not able to give it himself because he does not have the budgets and resources to do that, “she pleads. It argues that 10 of the 15 million paid by the government is spent on “direct services to institutions”.

According to her, “the regulation has evolved in recent years to reflect the different realities in each institution. We are stronger together and more effective than each alone, academically and administratively. ”

The UQ “is ready to improve, but not at the expense of the mission entrusted to us,” Ms. Beauchamp. This mission is “to increase the level of training of the Quebec population through increased accessibility, ensure the scientific development of Québec and contribute to the development of its regions,” according to the law.

This is not the first time that the role of headquarters is questioned. The thing had come under the media radar, but a working committee set up by the government Marois had recommended changes to UQ.

“The law of UQ has had its day”

In a report on university governance, filed in 2013, the chairmen of the boards of UQAM and Université Laval, Lise Bissonnette and John Porter, respectively, wrote that “the law is UQ over time, or rather she did superbly his time, and that we must now take note. ”

“The central supervision had created the 1968 Act, in particular by means of a Board of Governors and a Board of Studies with authority over the entire network, continually loses its relevance. It overlaps with the Ministry as well as the directions of the constituent universities that always fold, requiring the Act, the authorization mechanisms become generally simple but cumbersome formalities. ” They recall that in 2009, a proposal submitted by institutions UQ recommended that the headquarters waives its regulatory powers and that it is “transformed into a sort of services cooperative, particularly useful for smaller institutions size “.

The same year, the Minister of Education, Michelle Courchesne, has filed a bill to thoroughly review the governance of universities, including UQ, but it died on the order paper. Sylvie Beauchamp noted that this is in the context of the filing of this legislative piece that institutions had submitted their proposal. “They do not want the abolition of the headquarters, they are aware that it would weaken them,” she said.

“It does not grow on trees”

The rector of the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi, Martin Gauthier, is aware of discussions underway in Quebec for the headquarters. “The minister did not directly challenged me on it. Obviously, there are always people in the entourage … “he drops no further details.

It is not a surprise for him. “It does not just happen, that idea: the Treasury in talks non-stop!”, He says. It says that the President of the Treasury Board under the government Marois, Stéphane Bédard, who resigned as MP for Chicoutimi yesterday had a discussion with him on the subject. The president opposes the death of the head office. “If it is abolished, it would be a loss of expertise. Nevertheless it seems to me that we could reproduce this in the [university] component, the problem is that it will cost more, “he says.

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