Wed. Apr 24th, 2024

Several groups are calling on the government to make adjustments to the costly Perspective scholarship program, after its effectiveness was questioned in the college and university network . Minister Déry warns that we should not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Perspective Scholarships: group call to correct course

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Minister Pascale Déry was questioned about the Perspective Québec scholarships on Tuesday in the corridors of the National Assembly.

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    An “improvised” measure which is “magical thinking” and which attempts to “put higher education at the service of the market”. This is what the president of the FNEEQ-CSN, Caroline Quesnel, thinks of the Perspective Québec scholarships, the effectiveness of which in terms of attractiveness has been questioned by various senior officials in the university and college sector.

    Two years after the creation of this incentive measure to combat the labor shortage in several sectors of the economy, there has been no marked increase in student demand in the programs targeted by these scholarships, in light of data relating to admission applications collected by Radio-Canada.

    Questioned before entering the House on Tuesday, the Minister of Higher Education Pascale Déry indicated that we should not throw the baby out with the bathwater and that it was too early to have definitive conclusions [compared to to Perspective scholarships].

    But Ms. Quesnel, who represents a large majority of CEGEP professors and university lecturers in Quebec, does not do not share this opinion.

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    She recalls that there was no consultation of the community or analysis prior to implementing this measure, which represents a major investment of $1.7 billion over five years. We need to think with the network and not try to impose an ideology, she says.

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    The report that Caroline Quesnel holds in her hands makes ten recommendations which were adopted unanimously during the meeting of the federal office of the FNEEQ-CSN on May 4.

    It looks like the CAQ government is trying to play the sorcerer's apprentice with higher education. By trying to handle complex issues, we may have thrown a wrench into the water.

    A quote from Caroline Quesnel, president of the FNEEQ-CSN 

    She draws a parallel between the Perspective Québec scholarships and Bill 44, which definitively transfers responsibility for scientific research to the Ministry of the Economy. What interests the government is industry, it is employment, and that we subject universities and CEGEPs to these needs. This is an attack on higher education, nothing less.

    Instead of implementing a wall-to-wall program as the CAQ likes to do, the government could have targeted students who most need financial assistance, adds Liberal MP Madwa-Nika Cadet.

    I am not surprised by this data. Students decide to enroll in the programs that interest them; it’s difficult to force them to join particular professions, she adds.

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    Liberal MP for the Bourassa-Sauvé riding, Madwa -Nika Cadet

    I ask Minister Déry to come to us with elements of accountability to rectify the situation now.

    A quote from Madwa-Nika Cadet, Liberal spokesperson for higher education

    < p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">It shows that scholarships are not a panacea. Adjustments to this program need to be made, says Youri Blanchet, of the Federation of Collegial Education (FEC-CSQ).

    Both at the FNEEQ and at the FEC, we are of the opinion that the large sums invested in this measure could bear more fruit if they were injected to help the All students who have financial need, not just those who meet government criteria.

    Improving financial aid for studies, or even ensuring financial compensation for internships that are still unpaid in the teaching or nursing sectors, these are some examples of measures that could have been more beneficial.

    For the president of the Quebec Federation of University Professors (FQPPU), Madeleine Pastinelli, the career choices that young people make are mainly linked to working conditions. The thing to do is perhaps to offer more interesting working conditions and also to tackle the underfunding of universities more generally, she indicates.

    At the Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec (FIQ), we confirm that it is above all important to make the health network attractive to recruit nursing students, notably thanks to better professional-patient ratios.

    Students also have reservations about the Perspective scholarships. The Quebec Student Union (UEQ) criticizes them for not taking into account the financial needs of students. She also denounces their restrictive eligibility criteria and the fact that they are paid only once a study session is successfully completed.

    One thing remains crucial for student associations: that the money granted remains intended for the pockets of students, who really need it in the current inflationary context. We do not want the questioning of scholarships to be used to extract money from the student population. The student population needs this money, insists the president of the UEQ, Catherine Bibeau-Lorrain.

    Under no circumstances do we want these scholarships to be withdrawn. This is the only financial assistance granted to certain students, those who have to do unpaid internships, for example.

    A quote from Catherine Bibeau-Lorrain, president of the Quebec Student Union (UEQ)< /blockquote>Open in full screen mode

    Laurence Mallette-Léonard has been president of the Quebec College Student Federation since July 2023.

    The Quebec College Student Federation (FECQ) agrees. Even if we find that these sums could be invested in a more optimal way, it is essential that they remain intended for students, writes its president, Laurence Mallette-Léonard.

    Sol Zanetti, the new solidarity spokesperson for higher education, also believes that now is not the time to take money from students.

    A united government would have operated differently and would have opted for investments that would have benefited all students: generalized reductions in tuition fees, investments in student housing, cancellation of student debt, for example, specifies Mr. Zanetti.

    However, he is careful not to condemn the Perspective Québec scholarship program too early. Yes, the results in relation to attraction are disappointing, but perhaps we will see later that the graduation rate increased because financial aid contributed to academic perseverance.

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