On Oct. 13, the Quebec government revealed its plan to raise tuition for out-of-province and international students. In the immediate aftermath, students flooded the streets of Montreal, protesting the proposed hike and fearing its consequences on their university experience. Shortly thereafter on Nov. 2, McGill University Principal and Vice-Chancellor Deep Saini outlined the major impacts, including a drop in annual enrollment revenue that could be disastrous to smaller faculties, job reductions, and the elimination of some varsity teams.
Following several meetings with Saini and Bishop’s and Concordia University presidents, the provincial government announced that the increased out-of-province tuition cost would decrease from $17,000 to $12,000, while the cost for international students remains the same. However, McGill still expects to lose 60 per cent of its out-of-province students.
This loss will drastically affect collegiate sports teams. With McGill’s student body made up of 20 per cent out-of-province students and 30 per cent international students, many varsity teams are composed largely of students from outside of Quebec. As such, teams rely on recruiting students from out of province to not only fill their rosters, but fund their teams. With only level one varsity teams funded largely by the university, many level two, competitive club and recreational club teams rely on fundraising and player fees to function. Therefore, losing players from out-of-province will threaten many teams’ existence. Some teams will fall in jeopardy as their rosters largely rely on out of province athletes including fan-favourites such as the Redbirds lacrosse team,McGill artistic swimming, Martlets field hockey, and McGill rowing.
Ontario-born lacrosse midfielder Luke Dawick raised major concerns about the future of McGill’s team. To him, McGill offers a great education, the opportunity to meet lifelong friends, and a chance to play a high level sport. However, without lacrosse, Dawick likely would not have attended McGill.
Dawick explained his shock when he heard the news of the tuition increases, and that the most serious impacts will come through the amount of players they will be able to recruit in the next few years.
“Coach Soubry is going to have a harder time recruiting players outside of Quebec, and that will definitely limit the talent that we have been able to bring in the past,” Dawick told The Tribune.
This year, the team only had four Quebecers, with the rest of the 30 players coming from other Canadian provinces and the United States.
Field hockey midfielder and Vermonter Madeline Cohen,shared another perspective as her team faces a higher risk of being cut, despite being largely self-funded.
“Knowing our status as a tier-two team and knowing how easy it was for us to be cut during COVID, that’s kind of when the realization set in,” Cohen told The Tribune.
Cohen expressed how the financial constraints would lead to a different demographic of people at McGill and how that could lead to an entirely different student experience in Montreal altogether. Considering the appeal of McGill from a prospective student, she said the choice would not be easy anymore.
“I definitely would have had to think twice and weigh the pros and cons,” Cohen explained. “It would not have been this incredible opportunity for me, it would have definitely diminished the likelihood of coming here.”
While Media Relations Officer Frédérique Mazerolle emphasized to The Tribune that no definitive decisions have been made regarding varsity sports, it is clear that if the Quebec government implements the proposed tuition hikes, McGills’ teams will be affected. The Quebec government remains hostile towards eliminating the tuition hike entirely, leaving many varsity programs in a state of perpetual uncertainty. With anglophone universities comprising the majority of teams within several RSEQ divisions, some sports may be forced to look out of province for competition, forcing the future viability of Quebec university sports into question.
Sports Editor and Martlets field hockey goalkeeper Anoushka Oke did not contribute to this article.