01/16/2013 01:02 EST | Updated 03/18/2013 05:12 EDT

Students' group calls for independent review of university finances

Quebec's Federation of University Students (FEUQ) is calling for an independent committee to evaluate the financial needs of Quebec's universities.

Yesterday, the Conference of Rectors and Principals of the Province's Universities said Quebec universities are operating on a fraction of the budgets of other Canadian universities.

The group released a study comparing school operating budgets across the province which concluded Quebec universities suffered from a shortfall of $850 million in the 2009-2010 period.

But today FEUQ president Martine Desjardins said she doesn't trust the numbers provided by the organization.

"Right now we're hearing a debate about the numbers and we need to have an external look into this," she said.

Desjardins suggested the auditor general should take charge of the file.

Quebec's minister of higher education and research, Pierre Duchesne, responded to the FEUQ's requests for an independent committee, saying the government will talk about the request with its partners.

"The needs of universities are well-known ... we have to receive all the studies, and prepare a good analysis," he said.

Desjardins also said Quebec universities need to put more money towards students and research, rather than building new facilities.

According to Desjardins, university building projects should be put on hold until an external commission takes a closer look at funding.