News, The Tribune Explains

The Tribune Explains: Quebec tuition increases

On Oct. 13, the Quebec government announced its plan to increase tuition for out-of-province Canadian university students. The policy will nearly double out-of-province tuition at McGill from the current $8,992 to $17,000 annually for Arts students. With concerns swirling around the McGill community about how this will affect students and the institution, The Tribune explains what these changes will mean.

Who will the policy affect?

The tuition increase comes into effect in Fall 2024 and has provisions that affect not just out-of-province students, but also international students.

All out-of-province students will be impacted by the tuition hikes, including non-Quebec students who are francophones. However, individuals covered by student mobility agreements, which allow French and francophone Belgian students to study in Quebec at the same price as in-province students, will not see increases in the tuition.  The changes will also not affect people pursuing doctorates or master’s students provided that their program includes a thesis.

Starting next fall, the minimum tuition for international students at Quebec universities will be $20,000. McGill has yet to announce whether this will increase international tuition for incoming classes. 

Students already enrolled in universities across Quebec will not be affected by this policy—only incoming students will see the tuition increases. Students currently enrolled will have five years to complete their respective degrees before any changes will be seen. 

What is the CAQ’s rationale?

In an article posted to the Quebec government’s website on Oct. 13, the Office of the Minister of Higher Education wrote that this decision was made so that Quebec tax dollars will no longer subsidize “Canadian students who come to study in our English-speaking establishments and who, for the most part, leave Quebec after their graduation.” The Minister of Higher Education of Quebec, Pascale Déry, has announced that the surplus money generated will go toward funding French-language universities in Quebec. The provincial government did not consult Quebec’s three English-speaking universities—Bishop’s University, Concordia University, and McGill University—or the city of Montreal prior to the announcement of these changes.

How has the McGill community responded?

Principal Deep Saini said in an Oct. 16 email to the McGill community that these changes will have “serious consequences” for McGill. The university’s student population is made up of roughly 20 per cent out-of-province students and 30 per cent international students. Saini emphasized the importance of welcoming students from outside Quebec to study in the province. 

In the days after the policy was announced, McGill decided to pause work on a $50 million program aimed at teaching students and staff French, citing changes in the university’s future financial situation due to the tuition changes. 

The Student Society of McGill University (SSMU) and the Concordia Student Union (CSU) released a joint statement on Oct. 19 condemning the tuition increases and calling them “undemocratic and discriminatory.” The student groups expressed concerns that the increase will make education inaccessible and a “luxury item.” 

Both groups will be holding town halls for students to express their questions and concerns. SSMU’s town hall will be on Oct. 25 and CSU’s will be on Oct. 26. Students from McGill and Concordia are planning a strike on Oct. 30 to protest the tuition increases.

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