MUN President Vianne Timmons’s media prep

MUN President Vianne Timmons.

A recently obtained ATIPP reveals Q&A of possible questions from media at the tuition framework news conference for Memorial University of Newfoundland President Vianne Timmons prepared by the university’s Manager of Communications Dave Sorensen.

See document below:

Q&A re tuition framework news conference

Friday, July 9, 2021

Why are you increasing fees so significantly?

This tuition framework adjustment is necessary given the provincial government’s planned cut of $68.4 million from its annual operating grants to the university over the next five years, ending government support for the tuition freeze in place for the past 20 years.

Why would students come to Memorial with such high fees?

Even with this adjustment, Memorial’s domestic undergraduate tuition fees will remain the most affordable in Atlantic Canada. Fees for international undergraduates will be below the Canadian university average. Memorial still has high-quality programs and will still provide good value for students. With our new Core Science Facility set to open in the fall, we are creating world-leading space for our students, as well.

What benefits will students see from paying so much more?

These tuition changes are intended to offset the reduction in government funding. They are not designed to provide additional resources to the university.

Memorial is an excellent university. We have more than 300 program options, research and experiential learning opportunities for students. Our new strategic plan, Transforming Our Horizons, calls us to renew our focus on the student experience and continually put students at the centre of our decision making.

Also plan to focus on fundraising efforts to support access for NL students in need as well as to recognize student excellence.

Students and others have complained about lavish spending and administrative bloat. Shouldn’t the university cut costs before raising costs for students?

Increasing tuition fees is just one of Memorial’s plan to balance its operating budget; other measures include reducing costs and finding efficiencies. Since 2016 Memorial has implemented $42 million in efficiencies and cost reductions in order to balance its budget. This work to find efficiencies will continue.

There has been a 10.6 per cent reduction in the number of employees since 2015, with 421 fewer employees.

Will the tuition increase offset the reduction in the provincial grant?

The proposed increase in the undergraduate tuition rate is forecasted to provide $54.3 million to the university budget from 2022-23 to 2026-27, in addition to $3.09 million to the Marine Institute. In Budget 2021, the province said it would reduce Memorial’s operating grant byy $68.4 million over the next five years. Memorial will continue to work to reduce costs.

Will you cut high salaries to help balance the budget?

Memorial aims to keep executive salaries at the 50th percentile of comparator markets. Two years ago, we implemented a new salary scale for senior administrators, in most cases significantly reducing salaries for those positions.

Will Memorial still be able to support immigration to this province with tuition so high?

With these changes, tuition at Memorial is still at the low end of Canadian universities. We have an excellent university with committed faculty and staff and we expect international, Canadian, and Newfoundland and Labrador students will still come to Memorial.

How will this increase impact the state of buildings and other infrastructure on campus?

These tuition changes are intended to offset the reduction in government funding. They are not designed to provide additional resources to the university.

Campus infrastructure is an issue at virtually every Canadian university. Through our Campus Master Plan project and the creation of the new Core Science Facility (with $100 million from the Government of Canada and $25 million from the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador), we are improving our infrastructure.

We instituted an infrastructure fee a few years ago and that money goes into deferred maintenance and other critical infrastructure needs on all our campuses.

Are you still proceeding with law school plan, despite the precarious state of your finances?

The law school will proceed if it can be demonstrated to be financially self-sufficient. No resources from other units or programs will go towards a school of law.

Dr. Timmons, how can you collect a nearly half-million-dollar salary and ask the province’s most vulnerable and marginalized people more than double their cost to get a university education?

We are protecting vulnerable students by offering bursaries and grants to those in need – and we will be adding more.

Our understanding is that Minister Osborne has a media availability scheduled this afternoon to provide an update on student financial supports.

Important to remember that our domestic tuition is still the most affordable in Atlantic Canada and that our international tuition is below the Canadian university average.


Matt Barter is a fourth-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.

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