03/09/2012 06:16 EST | Updated 05/09/2012 05:12 EDT

Concordia University fined $2M for excessive severance packages

Quebec's education ministry has fined Concordia University $2 million for spending too much money on severance packages for top administrators.

Judith Woodsworth was paid more than $700,000 when the school dismissed her as university president a year ago.

Quebec Education Minister Line Beauchamp informed Concordia about the fine in a letter.

Beauchamp said although universities are independently managed – they do receive public funding – and should have sound fiscal management.

Earlier this week, the university said it would conduct an external audit into its severance policies.

Over the past few years, Concordia says it has handed out a total of $2.4 million dollars to five senior management individuals.

Concordia Student Union president Lex Gill calls the situation embarrassing, but says "it's not like this is a surprise to anyone."

Gill says the ministry should have acted much earlier, adding that "it's impossible [it] didn't know this was an ongoing issue."

Concordia University turned down interview requests from CBC News.