The provincial government issued official directives to post-secondary institutions on the rollback of the tuition fee increase last week.
Quebec university students will be reimbursed the additional money they paid as part of the Charest Liberals provincial budget that sought to lift the freeze on tuition fees. Therefore, full-time Quebec students can expect a full refund or credit of the $127.05 increase per term or total of $254 for the 2012-2013 academic year.
Jean Charest, the former premier of Quebec, slated an increase of $325 a year over a total of five years for a hike of $1,625 sparking a seven-month long student strike movement. While negotiating with student leaders, the government then escalated the original increase from $1,625 to a total of $1,778 over seven years. Students this year were required to pay an additional $8.75 per credit.
Although Premier Pauline Marois announced the cancellation of the hike the day after the Parti Québécois won a minority government in the provincial election Sept. 4, universities were waiting upon official, written directives from the Quebec government before issuing a refund.
Joël Bouchard, the press attaché for Pierre Duchesne, the minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, confirmed in an interview with The Concordian that universities could expect instructions from the government in the following days.
McGill University announced on Sunday that its administration would be taking steps to apply the refund to students who pay Quebec tuition rates. Unlike Concordia, international and out-of-province students at McGill will not be reimbursed until the provincial government “renders its final decision” according to the statement.
In comparison, Concordia University released a statement online on Thursday Nov. 1 to inform all students that an adjustment and credit would be made to their fees for next semester. However, if students wish to be reimbursed before January, they can submit a request through their MyConcordia student portal and the university will comply.
Concordia President Alan Shepard discussed the refund during presidential remarks at Senate on Friday, saying that the downside of reimbursing students is that “it costs money to make those cheques” but that the university would issue them nonetheless.
Not all universities have issued an official notice of the repeal but both Concordia and Université du Québec à Montréal addressed statements to all students.
For Heather Gleason-Beard, a second-year education student at McGill from Toronto, she felt it was unfair that only Quebec residents received a reimbursement.
They did say they are awaiting to hear from the government, … so it may happen,” said Gleason-Beard. “It is pretty frustrating and unfair but I won’t lie, it is something I would expect from McGill.”
The Concordian contacted McGill, but the director of media relations could give no information on the matter.