In the public relations war between Quebec universities that plan to raise tuition over the next five years and the students who oppose paying more, students appear to have won today’s battle.
On Monday, 6,500 Concordia University students joined the province-wide boycott of classes, which is a protest over a planned increase in tuition from $2,200 today to just under $4,000 by 2017. Students say they can’t afford to pay more. Universities say the rise is necessary to balance the books.
But just as those students walked out, it was revealed by The Montreal Gazette that Concordia is reviewing millions of dollars paid out to employees who left their jobs in recent years. The books they’re trying to balance with more tuition money from students include a number of golden handshakes:
$605,000 to former internal audit director Ted Nowak
$639,000 to former internal assistant audit director Saad Zubair
$700,000 to former vice-president of advancement and alumni affairs Kathy Assayag
$332,000 to former chief financial officer Larry English
$129,000 to former security director Jean Brisebois
$703,500 to former president Judith Woodsworth and
$1-million to former president Claude Lajeunesse
Although a review is clearly the right thing to do, the timing could be better for an administration working hard to restore confidence in its governance after years of turmoil. After all, it would take 1,867 tuition payments just to cover the cost of those seven employees’ severance packages.