Quebec has a great record when it comes to finding new ways of doing things. However, one sector that continues to search for a solution is Quebec’s higher education system – the prime question for many people in the previous election, some 19 months back. This time though, it has been conspicuous by its absence.
Despite that, the question remains unanswered – How does an individual pay for a university system that offers both access and quality? Although this debate is not a new subject for Quebec or for the rest of the world, Quebec must emerge with the answer.
Committed citizens speak of a renaissance for Montreal, which happens to be Canada’s second largest city. However, despite having over 225,000 students at the universities and Cégeps, Montreal still hires less university graduates annually than any other major city in Canada.
It would be impossible to think of a similar renaissance for Quebec without finding some noteworthy funding solutions first. Until then, Quebec needs to find ways to keep its university system and economic future strong. In addition, Quebec also needs to find ways of retaining the talented students it attracts, once these students graduate. According to the president of Concordia University in Montreal, Alan Shepard, Quebec could achieve this in three possible ways.
The first method involves facilitating student immigration and seeking help from universities for this. This means that the authorities must simplify the bureaucratic processes. By connecting these students to the commercial and civic realms of Quebec and teaching them French, the universities could retain these students.
The second proposal entails providing additional physical spaces, linked together by networks, which would enable students to take control of their creativity and innovations. For example, Concordia launched District 3 in 2012. This multi-disciplinary incubator enabled Concordia’s students and alumni to work side-by-side for coming up with solutions or ways to build their own businesses.
The third method entails providing tax incentives for promoting a culture of innovation even further. Last summer, for example, Governor Andrew Cuomo commenced New York’s incubator networks with Start-Up New York, which offered tax credits to businesses that got established on or near a university campus and also supported the university’s mission.
Currently, universities favour merit and access along with the highest ideals of learning. If Quebec could harness these and make them drivers of civic and economic equality, their contribution to Quebec’s future could be invaluable.
Source: The Globe and Mail and Alan Shepard