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Provincial government may increase tuition

by Archives January 30, 2002

University students gathered in front of the Stephen Leacock Building at the McGill Campus this Monday to demonstrate against the removal of the tuition freeze in Quebec.
The demonstration, organized by the Grassroots Association for Student Power (GRASP), was a small-scale precursor of the Quebec City demonstration scheduled for Feb. 21. The Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) and the Association Pour une Solidarite Syndicale Etudiante are also promising strong opposition campaigns in the coming month.
Earlier this month, Education Minister Francois Legault, announced that if his government were elected to a new term, it would consider removing the eight-year-old university tuition freeze in Quebec, so long as financial aid to students was increased appropriately.
Although he backed away from these comments during a public appearance at the Universite de Montreal on Jan. 16, Legault’s statement has revived the public debate.
While some argue that higher fees could mean better quality education, others, mostly students fear that higher tuition would compromise university accessibility.
Proponents of removing the freeze argue that more money is needed to keep class sizes small, attract skilled faculty and students and stay on the cutting edge of research and technology.
Concordia University Rector and Vice-Chancellor Frederick Lowy said that if tuition increased, his priority would be to make more money available to needy students.
The CSU is against any increase in tuition fees. Patrice Blais, president of the Concordia Student Union (CSU), said that he condemned the easy route of increasing tuition.
David Bernans, CSU Researcher Responded to Lowy’s declaration: “Even with a few more need-based scholarships thrown into the mix, higher tuition means that you are sacrificing accessibility by downloading the cost of education from the public sector and onto the backs of the students.”
Jeremy Farrell, president of McGill’s student union said the government has made a commitment to the students, which he hopes will be preserved.
Presently, Quebec tuition fees are practically half of the Canadian average and the lowest in North America.
Quebec resident students pay an average of $1,668 per semester for undergraduate arts degree compared with $4,732 in Nova Scotia and $4,062 in Ontario. At Concordia, the tuition for full-time Quebec resident students in the Arts and Science program is $1,668.30, per semester compared to $3,858.30 for Canadian, non-Quebec residents and $9,858.30 for international students.

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