On Oct. 13, the Quebec government announced a new tuition model under which the province will no longer partially subsidize out-of-province and international student fees. The changes will increase out-of-province tuition from $8,992 to approximately $17,000 and raise international tuition to upward of $20,000. According to Quebec’s Minister of the French Language Jean-François Roberge, the tuition increase—which is set to come into effect in Fall 2024—will help to combat the decline of French in the province. The changes will not impact current students, who will have five years to finish their degrees under the existing tuition model.
Quebec’s English-speaking universities have reported that these changes would have devastating consequences on their institutions, including a revenue loss of up to $94 million and up to 700 job cuts for McGill. As a result, the province’s three English-speaking universities—McGill, Concordia, and Bishop’s—proposed a deal to Premier François Legault in a meeting on Nov. 6, which included mandatory French language courses for anglophone students in lieu of the tuition increase. Students at English-speaking universities have also been advocating through protests and petitions since the announcement of the changes.
While the Premier’s office agreed to make a full exemption for Bishop’s because the tuition increases put the institution’s survival at risk, it declined the universities’ proposal to replace the tuition increase with mandatory French courses within hours of their meeting. After the deal’s rejection, The Tribune talked to McGill students about how these proposed increases would impact incoming students and the institution’s future.
“It is an embarrassment on the part of the Quebec government to raise prices, as it places an unnecessary burden on students and their families. Quebec wanting to preserve the French language is holding the province back, [like] in the ’70s when [it] introduced Bill 101, [and] Quebec lost hundreds of businesses to Ontario. While Legault’s government may not see it, this is a decision that will severely impact the province economically for years to come. I love McGill, and I love what its multicultural student body brings to it. It would not be the same without them.” — Emma Gallanti, U3 Arts, Quebec Student
“I think that there is this widespread misconception about the types of out-of-province students who choose to attend McGill, and that part of it comes from a disconnect between Legault’s government and anglophone student populations at English universities. Students here are not interested in gnawing at the foundations of francophone society in Montreal; students choose to come to McGill despite or in light of, the French language barrier [….] The tuition hikes are only hurting the Canadian students who are the most likely candidates to stay and reside in Quebec. These are the students who chose the French atmosphere in Quebec as opposed to other schools [and] cities. It is not the French language that deters me from building a life in Quebec, it is the constant influx of political messages that overtly demonstrate that non-Quebecers are not welcome in this province [….] It is a shame that this political game is coming at the expense of Canadian students, their future, and the future of this city as well.” — Nkwanzi Banage, U2 Arts, Out-of-Province Student
“The writing’s on the wall—these tuition hikes are not for the reasons the CAQ [Coalition Avenir Quebec] says. Otherwise, they would have accepted the deal to have anglophone students grow in Quebecois culture. Instead, their policy is blatantly xenophobic, threatening the multicultural foundation McGill is built off of by restricting [admission] only to the wealthiest.” — Domi Wong, U0 Science, Out-of-Province Student
“I have tried my best to both learn the language and familiarize myself with the culture here and now feel like no matter what I do, I am not welcome. I also feel bad for all the prospective students who would not be able to partake in what McGill has to offer due to the heightened costs, especially as this university has had such a profound impact on myself, my friends, and my fellow students.” — Amanda Klunowski, U2 Arts, Out-of-Province Student