A recently obtained access-to-information request reveals Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) President Vianne Timmons’s briefing note for the PPSER report release. See text below:

Briefing note draft confidential advice

PPSER report release

Last updated: May 3, 2021


This briefing note has been prepared in advance of media interviews about the release of the province Public Postsecondary Education Review report, released on Thursday, April 29.


The province committed to a review of the public post-secondary education system in its budget speech of 2018. The overall purpose of the review was to provide a strategic vision for the next decade and beyond for a public post-secondary education system that delivers high quality education, contributes to knowledge creation and transfer, and prepares post-secondary students for the future, both personally and professionally. A committee of experts to guide the review was recommended by the Independent Appointments Commission and announced on March 7, 2019. The review process commenced in April 2019. Broad consultation was conducted across all provincial campuses of Memorial University of Newfoundland and the College of the North Atlantic, and public consultations were held at each campus community.

Strategic considerations:

Much of the public focus of the report is on the recommendation to lift a 20 year-old tuition freeze. Many questions from the media will focus on this. This is already a topic of public discussion/interest on social media.


Dr. Vianne Timmons, Memorial president

Possible questions

What was your initial impression of the report?

What parts of the report did you agree with, with what parts did you disagree?

The report recommends ending the tuition freeze at Memorial. Will MUN increase tuition?

The PC Opposition criticized MUN spending. I s there a problem with administrative bloat?

High level key messages

1. I want to thank the review committee for a thorough report.

2. The report says that post-secondary education is an investment in the future and postsecondary institutions are a source of expertise in the present.

3. Some of the recommendations were already underway at Memorial.

4. We are looking at the tuition model but any proposal will not impact current students

5. Memorial is committed to remaining accessible, particularly for Newfoundland and Labrador students in financial need.

6. Decisions related to tuition and fees must be approved by the Board of Regents, Memorial governing body.


– Tuition fees at Memorial represent 12 per cent of the cost of university education (CAUBO)

– Memorial is committed to remaining accessible, particularly for Newfoundland and Labrador students in financial need.

– Discussions around tuition freeze, and if it is the best way to support NL students, have been on-going for a number of years.

– We are prepared to consider this issue and any proposed changes to Memorial tuition structure would be based on the following principles:

o Remaining accessible to Newfoundland and Labrador students with financial needs.

o Remaining one of the most affordable universities in Canada (below Canadian average).

o Ensuring students currently enrolled in a program have the opportunity to finish their program at the current tuition fees level via a grace period.

– Decisions related to tuition and fees must be approved by the Board of Regents, Memorial governing body.

– No changes to Memorial tuition for the 2021-22 academic year.

– A survey of undergraduate applicants in 2020 showed that the main reason they applied to Memorial was the programs available. The percentage of applicants who said they chose Memorial because of tuition costs has been decreasing in recent years.

– Education is an investment: median earnings for people in NL with a bachelor degree increases by 113% for women and 66% for men.

Median annual earnings of women and men aged 25 to 64 who worked full time and full year as paid employees, by highest level of education in Newfoundland and Labrador, 2015 (Statistics Canada)1
 High school diplomaBachelor degreePer cent change


– By legislation, Memorial is required to maintain a balanced budget. The university has implemented a number of changes since 2016 to find efficiencies and reduce its operating budget by $42 million. This includes:

– Reducing the total number of employees by 421 since 2015 (a reduction of 10.6%.

– Reducing the number of senior administrators from 132 to 105 (a reduction of 20.5%. Additionally, the salary structure for this group (senior administrators below the rank of vice-president) was adjusted in 2019 based on a national market study, with an average reduction of about $20,000 per position. [PSE recommendation 9.e. was for salary benchmarking which is already ongoing]

– Reducing university units operating budgets, while protecting the quality and integrity of programs, maintaining Memorial special obligation to the province, and ensuring a continued high-quality student experience.

1 https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/as-sa/98-200-x/2016024/98-200-x2016024-eng.cfm


– We agree that the Memorial University act should be modernized. Our submission to PPSER included a recommendation to form a collaborative task force to do so.

Already implementing some recommendations

– Economic impact study underway, expect results later this spring and will share with the community. We expect it to show the significant, multi-million dollar impact that Memorial brings to the province.

– Green technology to address deferred maintenance:

o $28.4M energy performance contract with Honeywell that is self-funded through energy savings. It is reducing Memorial costs while reducing annual greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 1,634 tonnes (equivalent to average household electricity use of 613 homes)

See image format below:

Matt Barter is a third-year student in the Humanities and Social Sciences Faculty at Memorial University of Newfoundland, majoring in Political Science with a minor in Sociology. He enjoys reading thought-provoking articles, walks in nature, and volunteering in the community.


Leave a Reply


%d bloggers like this: