V-c quits over lack of funds

February 25, 2000

Students are no longer the only people who drop out of university due to frustration with the effects of financial cutbacks. Now a Canadian vice-chancellor can be added to the list.

Paule Leduc announced she will step down one year early as head of the Universite du Quebec a Montreal, one of two French-language Montreal universities, citing an "untenable" financial situation.

"UQAM's chronic underfunding, coupled with the unprecedented budget cuts have taken me to the breaking point," said Ms Leduc in a statement announcing she would leave her post one year before her contract was due for renewal.

The 37,000-student university is running a C$19.5 million (Pounds 8.4 million) deficit and is forced to make another C$2.5 million cut to its operating budget in May.

In the past five years, Quebec universities have seen their collective operating budget cut by one-quarter. While some are weathering the storm better than others, Ms Leduc had been stymied by an academic union refusal to back a plan that would have raised student-teacher ratios.

The province's rectors and principals have stated the provincial system needs C$500-$800 million a year more to be run properly.

Last June, there was some optimism after education minister Francois Legault asked for three reports on funding and academic priorities. He has since failed to respond despite a commitment to do so before Christmas 1999.

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