Province presents new deal to student movement

Thousands of students took to the streets for the third night in a row on Friday in response to the Quebec government’s proposed adjustments to their plan to raise university tuition fees.

Calling the announcement an “insult more than an offer,” the demonstration swept through downtown Montreal, concluding with 35 arrests after rocks and bottles were thrown at police.

At a morning press conference held by Premier Jean Charest and Education Minister Line Beauchamp on April 27, they announced a six concessions which aim to appease students and end the 11-week strike.

The plan spreads the tuition hikes over seven years instead of five, with the total overall increase rising from $1,625 to $1,778. For the first five years, students would pay less than the originally proposed $325 per year, that amount increasing in the last two years.

An additional $39 million in bursaries would be added to Quebec students with family incomes of less than $30,000 a year. The plan also incorporates the creation of a new council to ensure better management of universities in Quebec and periodic evaluations of the impact of higher fees on education accessibility.

Reaction to the offer has not been positive, major student organizations arguing that it ignores the strike’s main goal of freezing tuition completely. Members of the Fédération Etudiante Universitaire du Québec will be voting on whether or not to accept the proposal in a week or so.

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