University students from across Quebec gather in protest against the doubling of tuition for out-of-province students.
Hundreds of Quebec university students took to the streets of Montreal last week to protest against the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) tuition increases for out-of-province and international students studying in anglophone universities.
Tuition at Quebec’s English universities for Canadian students outside of Quebec will almost double from $9,000 to $17,000 dollars starting in September 2024. The CAQ also raised the minimum tuition for international students outside of France or Belgium to $20,000. The proposed framework came as a surprise to everyone especially the English universities administration as they were not consulted.
This will not apply to currently enrolled students, who will be able to finish their enrolled degrees at their current tuition rate, but if they make changes to your degree, they might not be grandfathered into their current rate. If they take longer than a five-year period to complete their degree, like many students enrolled part-time, their tuition will increase.
The protest started at Dorchester square and traveled past Concordia’s Hall building, ending at the Rodrick gates in front of McGill, where speakers of various backgrounds addressed the crowd across the street from Premier Francois Legault’s office.
Concordia University English professor Nathan Brown was one of the speakers. Brown approved of the protest in an open letter saying that this is an opportunity for students, faculty, staff and administration to resist together against the egregious policies of the provincial government.
The protest organisers Noah Sparrow and Alex O’Neill, an out-of-province student from McGill, and other Concordia professors displeased with the provincial government’s actions against English higher education in Quebec also gave speeches.
The protest organisers, McGill political science student Alex O’Neill and Concordia creative writing student Noah Sparrow, put the event together in 12 days.
“We are trying to maintain access to education and we’re trying to preserve Montreal’s diverse student body and culture,” Sparrow said.
“An attack on one is an attack on all in regards to that,” O’Neill added. “We’ve received support from the unions at UQAM, Concordia and McGill, and we are working together to make sure that the student body is enfranchised.”
Graham Carr, the president of Concordia University, said in an internal message to Concordia University community that the tuition hikes for out-of-province and international students will cost Concordia around $62 million. This number makes up around 10 per cent of the school budget. He also stated to the Canadian Press that this new measure could potentially cut out-of-province enrollment by 90 per cent.
Many non-student anglophone Montrealers were in attendance, along with several other professors and members of Parliament, denouncing the new tuition framework. They urged Quebecers to sign the petition that would force the issue to be debated in Quebec parliament. Despite the backlash, the CAQ has yet to make a comment on the changes. On Oct. 25, the five French language universities in the province wrote an open letter that was published in La Presse to denounce the government’s actions against Quebec’s English universities.