Regroupement des collèges du Montréal Métropolitain - Latest round of proposed budget cuts will compromise services to students, say heads of 12 Montreal CEGEPs

MONTREAL, Sept. 29, 2011 /CNW Telbec/ - The Directors General of the 12 Montreal-area CEGEPs that comprise the Regroupement des collèges du Montréal Métropolitain (RCMM) wish to express their deep concern about the consequences resulting from additional budgetary compressions proposed by the Treasury Board. Such cuts would seriously compromise the quality of services offered to students as well as have a negative impact on educational institutions' ability to adequately respond to the needs of the greater metropolitan community.

"The challenges for Montreal CEGEPs are numerous and well-documented," said Richard Filion, RCMM Chairperson and the Director General of Dawson College. "Among the challenges we have faced in the past few years: the training of future employees to fill the growing need for skilled labour, student success and perseverance, integration of immigrants into the economy of the city and the province, growing productivity in increasingly globalized and competitive markets, re-training and certification of adults in economic sectors in high demand; the waves of budgetary cuts that have been forced upon educational networks seriously hamper our action plans and thwart the collective efforts we are trying to make to offset a precarious economic situation."

Montreal CEGEPs, along with their counterparts throughout the college network, are being subjected to a second round of budgetary compressions in the amount of $30 million, this in addition to the amount that was imposed last May during the annual budget allocation by the Ministère de l'Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport (MELS). Ministry officials had decreed that these successive cuts should not in any way affect services offered to students.

"This approach is inopportune," Mr. Filion said. "For colleges to make these cuts, it would be impossible not to affect services to students. It is regrettable that the Quebec government is holding so steadfastly to its deadline of 2013-2014 to balance the budget that it is exerting undue pressure on public services and compromises the government's ability to provide adequate resources to support the two chief priorities it has stated in recent years: health and education."

The idea that these budgetary compressions may be achieved by tapping into college surpluses is unrealistic; the majority of educational institutions that have a surplus have earmarked these funds to maintain and enhance services to students.

"Each Director General of a CEGEP looks to these funds to plan ahead in responding to future needs," Mr. Filion said. "It is our mandate as responsible and prudent administrators to guard against unexpected events and to prepare the ground by determining how best to deal with them.

"Each college in the RCMM could cite a number of examples to show how surpluses are being used, rationally and responsibly, to improve the quality of services offered to students, whether it is for the purchase of specialty equipment in a program, the modernization of a science laboratory, the bringing to standard for health and safety on equipment available to students, the renovation of sanitary facilities, the restoration of a swimming pool, etc."

These cuts are being imposed just as the need for qualified training at the CEGEP level is gaining ground. "These cuts are taking place as student populations in Montreal CEGEPs are reaching their peak," said Paul-Émile Bourque, the Director General of Cégep Saint-Laurent. "What's more, the increase in students from diverse ethnic backgrounds and the growing proportion of students with learning disabilities pose daily challenges that require even more resources".

"We are disconcerted by the approach recommended by the Treasury Board and by the Premier of Quebec, who stated just last February in his inaugural address to the National Assembly that education was his top priority," Mr. Filion continued.

"We are well aware of the present economic situation, and we do not aim to undermine recovery. We are simply asking the Quebec government not to clip the wings of a college network that is so vital in meeting the challenges this economic recovery presents and in contributing to the prosperity of the city and the province."

The Regroupement des collèges du Montréal métropolitain (RCMM) is the organization that regroups the 12 Montreal island CEGEPS for the purpose of representation, alliance and planning of college education. The RCMM is the body through which Montreal island colleges ensure that they receive the best response to their needs and that their concerns are addressed  in the context of their role within the Montreal region in the area of student success for the young and not-so-young, quality of training for the workforce and integration of immigrants.

SOURCE Regroupement des collèges du Montréal Métropolitain (RCMM)

For further information:

Dominique Rouette, RCMM
(514) 271-5508

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Regroupement des collèges du Montréal Métropolitain (RCMM)

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