Mandatory institutional fees (MIF) are the fees billed by universities that supplement basic tuition fees. As MIF are not regulated in the same way as tuition fees are, they are the subject of significant controversy in the university setting. For students at certain universities, particularly McGill, these fees are a significant proportion of their total bill. In 2012-2013, MIF represented, in Quebec, approximately 29% of the average annual sum paid by students, that is, $874 .
The criticism voiced by many addresses the significant increases announced by certain universities, which happen without clear guidelines. In 2008, these critiques led the Ministry of Education to adopt a by-law seeking to “put in place a mechanism [legal benchmarks] that protects students against eventual sudden and significant increases in fees that they must obligatorily pay in order to pursue their education.” According to the 2014-2015 budget rules of the Quebec government, the permitted increases per year are of maximum 2.2% per student.
MIF vary a lot from one establishment to the other. For example, in 2008-2009, full-time bachelor’s students at McGill paid $956.30 in MIF, as opposed to $404.40 at Université de Sherbrooke. The average was $562.57.
According to the Ministry, MIF are defined as:
“The fees other than tuition fees imposed on students by their universities. They cover a collection of services that vary from one establishment to another, from one year to another, and even, within a single establishment, from one faculty or teaching unit to the next. They include general fees (admissions, registration, exams, internships, etc.), technology fees, student services fees, contributions to student life, copyright feed, thesis review fees, premiums tied to certain mandatory insurance policies, fees associated to sports and leisure services, and various other fees (transcript and diploma fees, laboratory fees, uniform fees, etc.). Some of these fees may be imposed by the establishment and/or by its sub-units. It should be noted that MIF exclude all investment expenses in the accounting sense of the term, as these fall under subsidies in the Five-year Plan on University Investments or within the budgetary rules that apply to universities.”
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