Montreal students protest Quebec’s proposed tuition hikes for out-of-province students
Posted November 30, 2023 12:28 pm.
Last Updated December 2, 2023 10:51 am.
Student Associations across Montreal are protesting the Quebec governments decision to hike tuition for out-of-province students at English universities to nearly double what it is now.
Students are gathered outside of Concordia University and then marched on streets in downtown Montreal on Thursday, demanding the government back down on the changes that apply for fall 2024.
According to a LaPresse report on Wednesday, the CAQ is expected to backtrack a little on their October decision and increase tuition by 33 per cent, meaning from around $9,000 to $12,000 for students from the rest of Canada. But they are expected to keep the tuition hikes for international students at minimum $20,000 a year.
“To me its very sad,” said Vishal Shah, graduate student at Concordia University from India. “Definitely we are not getting affected by this, we are worried about the future generations to come to Canada.”
“International students are paying almost two to three times higher fees than the local students,” added Shah. “It’s not at all acceptable, it will demotivate the students who are coming to Canada.”
“I don’t think it’s a fair option,” said Gokul Doss Solaimalai, another graduate student from India. “Some politics are going on between the government, but still they should appreciate the people that come.”
For Concordia student, Quiana, she stands in solidarity with those affected.
“I’m born in Quebec, so I have the privilege of like the tuition hikes not affecting me,” she said. “But it’s going to affect us in like different ways with lower budget, classes being cut, our classes going to get bigger and I also don’t find like it’s fair for out-of-province students to get affected only because they’re not born in Quebec.”
A petition with over 33,000 signatures was tabled in the National Assembly on Tuesday to ask the government to cancel the increase in tuition fees that target English language universities, with the money to be reinvested in French universities.
On Wednesday, Higher Education Minister Pascale Dery said the measures had two objectives: financial and linguistic and said she is committed to balancing what she called an imbalance between English and French universities.
“We’re going to be here until it’s zero,” said Angelica Antonakopoulos, academic coordinator of the Arts & Science Federation of Associations at Concordia University. “We’re going to be here until the Quebec government admits that trying to increase tuition in the first place was a mistake and that all students, no matter where they come from, are incredibly valuable to this province as a whole.”
I think they’re feeling the fire but it’s not enough,” said Ryan Assaker of the School of Community and Public affairs at Concordia University. “They’ve got to bring it down to zero, education should be free, it should be a right, it should be accessible for everyone regardless if you’re French or English.”
McGill and Concordia universities have said they expect to see a significant drop in enrolment and revenue, while Bishop’s University in Quebec’s Eastern Townships said its survival was threatened.
During a meeting with Premier François Legault on Nov. 6, rectors of English universities offered to make 40 per cent of their non-French-speaking students coming from the rest of Canada and abroad learn French with mandatory courses in exchange for backing down on the measures announced in October.
In the case of Bishop’s University, the government, according to LaPresse, intends to adopt a special measure to take its particular situation into account. While in Sherbrooke on Saturday, Premier Legault suggested that the university could be spared or exempt from the measures.
“There are concerns about the future of French in Montreal, but I have no concerns about Sherbrooke,” he said.
But the government will maintain its new pricing for foreign students, according to LaPresse. It will be a base rate of $20,000 for international student, which the government will collect $3,000. The amounts raised will be used to increase funding for French-speaking universities.
The new plan is expected to be submitted to the Council of Ministers, with an announcement in the next week.