‘Substantial’: Concordia University sees 30 per cent drop in applications from out-of-province students due to tuition hike and French requirement

"It’s very concerning for us," says Graham Carr, president of Montreal's Concordia University, after a 30 per cent drop in applications from out-of-province students due to Quebec's tuition hikes and French requirement. Alyssia Rubertucci reports.

By Alyssia Rubertucci

Montreal’s Concordia University says applications from out-of-province students have significantly dropped since Quebec announced tuition for those students would jump up to $12,000 a year from $9,000 and introduced a new French requirement.

President and Vice-Chancellor, Graham Carr, says applications are down by 30 per cent. “That’s a pretty substantial decline and of course it’s something we forecasted and it’s very concerning for us,” he said.

Carr says the concern stems from the financial implications, but also because of the impact on the identity of the university.

“It’s clear that students are concerned about cost, and they’re confused about what awaits them if they come to Quebec in the current circumstances.”

Concordia University President and Vice-Chancellor, Graham Carr. (Credit: Alyssia Rubertucci, CityNews image)

Last December, Quebec Higher Education Minister Pascale Déry confirmed that tuition fees for students from other Canadian provinces will go up 30 per cent, rather than almost doubling at $17,000 as was initially announced in October.

She also announced that non-Quebec students would need to learn French throughout their studies and be able to speak at a conversational level, passing a proficiency test to graduate.

“The question around French-language acquisition created additional confusion,” Carr said. “While those expectations remain to be defined and they won’t come into affect until 2025, it’s been hard to get that message out to students in a short period of time.”

“Our goal is to protect the interest of students and ensure that their ability to graduate from Concordia is not contingent on attaining a certain level of French,” said Carr. “At the same time, we’re very keen to do our part to promote and protect the language.”

Tuition for international students will now be a base of $20,000 yearly, $3,000 of which will go to the province in fees.

Carr says the application rate for international students has seen a decline of 40 per cent for both undergraduate students and non-research Master’s programs.

“Right now it’s all hands on deck to try to reach out to prospective students,” Carr said.

For Canadian students from other provinces, Concordia created a merit-based scholarships between $1,000 and $4,000, in order to offset the rise in tuition.

“We’re trying to address the financial challenge. but at the same time send the message that we want top students and we’re prepared to support them,” said Carr.

Carr says working groups will be set by the province to organize the next steps for the implementation of the francisation program and hope for more open dialogue with the government.

Meanwhile, the deadline for applications is March 1 and Carr said he expects it to translate into a decline of actual acceptances.

“Our challenge has been has been undermined by the government announcement so we need to work hard to restore that reputation and remind people of why Concordia has been, continues to be and will be a great university in the future.”

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