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Quebec’s university lobby group reorganizes

CRÉPUQ will no longer be the voice for Quebec universities with the public, the media and government.

By MARIE LAMBERT-CHAN | JAN 29 2014

The Conférence des recteurs et des principaux des universités du Québec (CRÉPUQ) is officially changing its name to the Bureau de coopération interuniversitaire (BCI) — the office of interuniversity cooperation. The organization will continue to offer services to universities, such as joint purchasing for libraries. It will also continue to act as a forum for coordination and cooperation on issues of mutual concern. However, it is giving up its role as the official voice of university administrations in Quebec in their dealings with the public, the media and government.

This change, which has been anticipated for several months, comes on the heels of the 2012 student crisis and the province’s Higher Education Summit that followed in 2013. The organization began to shows signs of discord when the rector of Université Laval, Denis Brière, announced his withdrawal from CRÉPUQ in April 2013. Université de Montréal’s rector, Guy Breton, announced his intention to leave the organization shortly thereafter — which he did not do in the end, according to the BCI. In June 2013, the 19 heads of Quebec universities announced that CRÉPUQ would no longer function as a political lobby group and would concentrate on consensus-building activities and managing common services.

“CRÉPUQ had the mandate of representing universities since 2007,” said Luce Samoisette, chair of the board of the BCI and rector of Université de Sherbrooke. “Over time, we realized that this role did not meet the expectations of all universities.

“They want to have their own voice to talk about their own issues. Their experiences are not identical: some are single-discipline institutions, others have faculties of medicine, others are located in the regions … These differences can dilute our shared positions, something we saw fairly clearly during the student crisis when we were meeting regularly.”

Currently, all Quebec universities pay dues to BCI; these will soon be reduced. All university executive heads are members of the board of directors, except for Denis Brière, who is attending meetings as a guest for the time being.

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