16 was certainly sweet as university alumni and students gathered for the 16th annual Concordia Shuffle fundraiser last Friday. Since its inception in 1990, the inter-campus shuffle has raised more than $650,000, with over 300 students having benefited from Shuffle scholarships and bursaries.
“It’s why I walk,” said-36 year-old Concordia Alumni Henry Tomlinson. “I was at the first walk in 1990 because I was one of those students who was struggling financially and considering abandoning my studies.”
Although Tomlinson didn’t receive a scholarship or bursary, he did get motivated to do what was necessary to stay in school.
“The shuffle just opened my eyes to other students who had a much greater need,” he said
According to Tomlinson, that greater need was to ensure that Quebec univerities would continue to offer low tuition fees for its students, even as other provinces doubled, or even tripled their fees.
“If I was struggling back then how would future students be able to make ends meet today?” he said.
The province’s low tuition rates have caused many out-of-province and international students to pursue their degrees in Quebec. Nevertheless, in the past 16 years, Tomlinson and others have watched tuition fees in Quebec rise.
According to Statistics Canada, undergraduate students will pay an average of $4,214 in tuition fees for the 2005 academic year, up from $4,140 the year before. This is almost triple the average of $1,464 in 1990. Out-of-province students pay $4,401 while International students can pay up to $10,878.
Since 1990, tuition fees have increased at an annual average rate of 7.3 per cent. In the 1990 and 1991 academic years alone, tuition went up 15.2 per cent and 16.5 per cent respectively. However, since 2000, when the provincial government decided to deregulate fees, the increase has slowed to an annual average of 4.1 per cent.
Despite this, average tuition fees between 1990-2004 increased at a faster pace than inflation. During this period, tuition rose at an average annual rate of eight per cent, beating the average 1.9 per cent rate of inflation by four times.
The rising numbers have resulted in increased student discontent across Quebec. Last year, the uproar focused on the $103 million per year cut in the provincial government’s student bursary program. Since 1996, the Parti Qu