Thawing tuition freeze still a drop in the bucket

Returning to school with open wallets is nothing new. But starting this fall they’ll open a little wider.
University tuition fees in Quebec have increased $50 per semester as part of a five-year plan that will see an overall increase of $500. The last time tuition fees in the province saw an increase was in 1994, when it rose to $1,660 where it remained frozen until now.
Chris Mota, Director of Media Relations at Concordia University, said that taxpayers bear the burden of paying for students’ education. “The quality of education will definitely be compromised if the current funding levels remain in place,” said Mota, stating that Quebec residents pay far less than the rest of Canada.
“Quebec universities are in competition with universities across the country when it comes to recruiting faculty, student recruitment, etc.”
The Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities (CREPUQ) estimates that the province’s universities are under-financed by $375 million per year when compared to Canadian universities outside Quebec. The deficit can partly be attributed to Quebec having the lowest university enrollment rate in addition to the lowest tuition fees in the country.
However, the increase in tuition will at best cover a fraction of the funds Concordia needs to operate.
“The tuition increase goes towards everything to help Concordia offer the best services it can,” Mota continued. “But it’s talking pennies compared to what we need.”
Mota also said the increase in tuition will complement financial assistance programs for students, but the real benefit comes from investing back into the university so that it can remain competitive.
“Although low tuition might seem like a draw to students, they do their research before making a decision on where to study,” said Mota. “When it becomes clear to them that the quality of education in Quebec’s universities risks slipping below that offered in other parts of the country, this could work against us. Despite low rates, Quebec students might choose to study elsewhere.”
Mota also said that tuition fees go directly to the government who in turn will return a certain amount to the school on a per student basis that varies based on faculty.
Nevertheless, Concordia’s CSU believes that access to a quality education should not come at the student’s expense. Noah Stewart, vice president of communications believes the tuition freeze should be reinstated and the tuition increase be revoked. In addition, Stewart said that ancillary fees should be regulated, governing how they’re added and then freezing them.
“The Quebec government should invest more money in universities and the federal government needs to reinvest $4 billion in post-secondary education in Canada as a whole,” said Stewart.
Like Mota, Stewart said that the increased tuition will not help the university meet its financial needs. He believes that the student has taken on the responsibility of the government.


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