Concordia students may see a rise in tuition fees after the university’s new rector hinted that he is open to doubling the school’s current tuition.
Tuition for Quebec students has not risen over the past decade due to a 1995 provincial government freeze. Compulsory fees for athletics and capital campaigns, which are unregulated and at the discretion of the university, have increased. However, last week President Claude Lajeunesse indicated that Concordia students may suffer from tuition hikes, when he suggested bringing the university’s tuition at par with Ontario universities.
In an October 20 interview with La Presse, Lajeunesse said that he has a problem with fees that rise to $15,000 to $20,000 per year.
“It represents a problem for many students,” he said. “But when we talk about $4,000 to $5,000 per year with a good financial aid system, then it is a direction we can think about, unless the provincial government can provide some funding to ease the burden on students.”
It currently costs $1,800 a year in tuition fees at Concordia. This does not include books. Concordia Student Union VP of Communications, Steven Rosenthal, sees any increase in tuition fees as unreasonable.
“The CSU is committed to accessible education for everyone and we are opposed to tuition increases,” he said. “There has been talk about lifting the 1995 tuition freeze in Quebec, but it would be more logical if Concordia’s administration would help us set up talks with the government on how to help students pay for their education.”
The present freeze on tuition is a result of the student march in 1995 and 1996 that culminated a three-week province-wide strike by thousands of college students in Quebec. The students opposed the provincial government’s plan to cut $700 million from funding to education.
In response to the student strike and the wave of protests and occupations, then Education Minister, Pauline Marois, pledged to freeze tuition fees at college and university levels until the end of the government’s mandate. However, the minister announced that fees for out-of-province students would increase by 73 per cent.
“We were united for the same cause, the fight for a decent education,” said Gerry Knight, who was there with a group of about 500 students from Dawson College.
Tuition across Canada is now almost three times higher than in 1990. Since then, tuition rates have gone up an average of 8.1 per cent each year, more than four times faster than the rise in the rate of inflation during the same period. British Columbia saw the largest rise in tuition for the third year in a row, up 15.6 per cent from 2003. Compulsory student fees for athletic programs, health services and student associations also rose this year. They are up 2.8 per cent to an average of $608.
Contrary to that victory, since 1996 the Parti Qu