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No increase in fees for French-speaking universities

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The Legault government finally agreed to modulate differently the measures it had announced earlier this fall due to numerous complaints from English-speaking universities like McGill. (Archive photo)

  • Francis Plourde (View profile)Francis Plourde

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The increase in tuition fees announced Thursday for undergraduate university students from other provinces will not apply to French-speaking universities. The revision of the Quebec plan, however, arouses mixed reactions in the west of the country.

In an email sent Friday to Radio-Canada, a spokesperson word from the Ministry of Higher Education of Quebec (MESQ) confirms that the announced increase of 33% for students from other provinces, and which targets English-speaking universities in Quebec, will not apply to students wishing to enroll in French-speaking universities.

Starting in fall 2024, Canadian students not resident in Quebec who follow a program in French at a French-speaking university will continue to pay the current rates indexed annually, writes the ministry spokesperson.

When it was first announced in October, the MESQ targeted all undergraduate university students outside Quebec, regardless of the university chosen. Minister Pascale Déry was committed to correcting the situation for French-speaking establishments.

According to MESQ data, in 2022-2023, 12.4 % of undergraduate university students from another province studied in a French-speaking educational institution.

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The exemption confirmed Friday is in addition to the price exclusions which will be granted to 825 students from Bishop's University on an annual basis.

With the initial increase, tuition fees, currently estimated at $9,000 per year on average for students from outside Quebec, were expected to reach $17,000 per year, an increase that was strongly denounced in October. The revision announced Thursday instead confirms a 33% increase in tuition fees, to approximately $12,000 per year.

For many Francophones in British Columbia, this increase constituted a significant obstacle in their efforts to live the Quebec experience. The downward revision is thus welcomed with a certain relief.

It reopens the door to going to study there, confirms Jacques Glasset, twelfth grade student year who had abandoned, in October, his plan to study at McGill University or Concordia University, due to the significant increase in tuition fees.

It's still disappointing, because there is still an increase, says Sophie Gandell, who is also reconsidering Montreal as a possible option.

It's ironic because it penalizes us, the French speakers who wish to study in an environment like Quebec, believes Gabrielle Mauser, who plans to enroll at McGill or Concordia.

For its part, the New Democratic government says it is encouraged by Quebec's decision to reduce the increase, but still disappointed by the fact that it is moving forward with a 33% increase.

We continue to hope that the Quebec government reviews its decision, indicates a spokesperson for the Ministry of Postsecondary Education, deploring the fact that the increase in student fees Education will always hold back students who want to study in Quebec, reducing the number of British Columbians who can experience the richness of Quebec culture.

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