Principal Heather Munroe-Blum sat down with reporters from the McGill Daily, Le Délit, and the Tribune earlier this month to answer questions about the upcoming tuition hikes, the ratio of graduate students to undergraduates, and McGill’s Strategic Reframing Initiative.
In response to questions about provincial tuition increases, which the provincial government announced in its budget on Thursday, Munroe-Blum stressed the need to raise tuition fees to a level more similar with those in the rest of the country. In addition, she reiterated McGill’s commitment to dedicate 30 per cent of any new revenue from tuition to increasing student aid.
“My hope is that while I’m principal—and I’ve got a few years left as principal—that we would be able to say that every qualified student would be able to come to McGill, independent of their financial need,” she said.
Munroe-Blum has previously stated that she would like McGill to be able to compare itself to research-intensive public universities in the United States, such as the University of North Carolina.
In the interview, Munroe-Blum said that the student bodies of such universities typically have a slightly higher percentage of graduate students than McGill does—say, 70 per cent undergraduates and 30 per cent graduates, as compared to McGill, which is about 75 per cent undergraduate. She feels there is room to increase the number of graduate students at McGill in proportion to undergraduates.
“There are many things that would indicate that if we increase the graduate student proportion a little bit, the quality of undergraduate education will be better that it is today,” she said, citing possible benefits such as smaller class sizes.
Earlier this year, McGill’s administration also touted the role played by two senior members of McKinsey & Company, a prestigious international consulting firm, in carrying out the Strategic Reframing Initiative, an effort to improve many of the university’s administrative practices.
In recent weeks, however, McKinsey has found itself at the centre of a massive investigation by the American federal government into insider trading. In a March 9 article in the Financial Times, John Gapper wrote that “the scandal goes to the heart of McKinsey’s business model.”
Asked whether the accusations against McKinsey had given her pause about working with the company, Munroe-Blum downplayed the company’s role in the initiative.
“We’re not working with McKinsey,” she said. “We have a governor who is a senior person at McKinsey, who is an alumnus, and we have another alumnus. The two of them are pro bono giving us guidance.”
The company’s normal modus operandi, she said, involved a large team of McKinsey consultants coming in, doing evaluations, and making recommendations, which did not happen at McGill. She was following the investigation, she said, but was not concerned about its effect on the initiative.
“I don’t worry about it contaminating McGill at all,” she said.