Quebec premier defends controversial tuition hike for out-of-province students | CBC News

Quebec premier defends controversial tuition hike for out-of-province students | CBC News


Legault defends tuition hike for out-of-province students as means to protect French

Premier François Legault says increasing university tuition for out-of-province students will help protect the French language by limiting the number of anglophones studying in Quebec.

Premier says having so many English-speaking students in Quebec hurts French language

CBC News



Quebec Premier François Legault says French universities in Quebec have considered adding English programming to earn some of the revenue going to English universities. (Radio-Canada)

Premier François Legault says increasing university tuition for out-of-province students will help protect the French language by limiting the number of anglophones studying in Quebec.

“It’s nothing against anglophones,” Legault told reporters Tuesday. “This is to protect French.”

Legault said this while providing further insight into his government’s decision to hike tuition for students coming to Quebec from across Canada or abroad.

Quebec’s minister of higher education, Pascale Déry, announced Friday that new, out-of-province Canadian students will see tuition fees double next year. For most, that means costs will jump from $9,000 to more than $17,000.

International student tuition will also rise to a minimum of $20,000 per year. Déry framed the increase, the proceeds of which will go into government coffers, as a way to balance the funding of English and French universities in the province. 

Montreal’s two English universities, Concordia and McGill, are more popular with international and out-of-province students than Quebec’s French universities. As a result, they make more money from tuition from those students. 

This is why Legault wants to ensure those coming in from abroad are paying more and that wealth is redistributed equally among French-language universities, the premier explained Tuesday. 


McGill University will suffer ‘serious consequences’ if tuition rates are hiked for out-of-province students, according to the institution’s principal and vice-chancellor, Deep Saini. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

“It’s a question of equality for French universities,” he said, and it will help protect the French language.

“Year after year, we have a decline in French, and I am determined to reverse that trend.”

Citing the 2022 French-language law reform, Legault said his government has always strived to protect the French language.

He said taking these steps was not an easy decision to make, but it is necessary as having so many anglophone students in Quebec threatens the survival of the French language.

Legault said he refuses to believe the future of universities like McGill and Concordia could depend on students coming from out of province.

Bishop’s and McGill express worry for future

But nearly a third of the students who attend Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke, Que., are from outside the province, the university’s principal and vice-chancellor, Sébastien Lebel-Grenier, said.

He said the university would be in dire financial straits if students from the rest of Canada couldn’t afford the higher tuition cost.

WATCH | Students from outside Quebec say they’ll be deterred by higher costs: 

Out-of-province students say Quebec tuition hike would push them to stay away

Featured VideoStudents attending or considering Concordia from outside Quebec say the cost of school and living would probably price them out of higher education here.

A top McGill University official expressed similar concerns Tuesday. Half of the McGill student body is from Quebec, with 30 per cent international and 20 per cent from out of province.

In a letter to the school community Tuesday, the institution’s principal and vice-chancellor, Deep Saini, said “these measures, if implemented, would have serious consequences.”

“We are stronger when our doors are open — when we attract the brightest minds from Canada and the world, enticing and equipping them to build fulfilling, productive lives here,” Saini wrote.

Saini said students from outside of Quebec have much to share with the city and province.

The president of the Montreal chamber of commerce said the tuition hike could worsen labour shortages and damage the city’s reputation as an international university town. Michel Leblanc said the focus should instead be on integrating students and helping them learn French.

Legault’s claims amount to ‘political rhetoric’: Liberal

Liberal Party member and public affairs consultant Antoine Dionne Charest, son of former premier Jean Charest, said this another example of the Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) singling out anglophones as soon as the party’s popularity takes a dive.

Dionne Charest said he believes French is fragile but not on the decline in Quebec.

The argument that English-speaking students are detrimental to French is “political rhetoric,” he said.

“They are not a threat,” Dionne Charest told The Current with Matt Galloway. “Some learn French. Some decide to stay, start a family and pursue graduate studies.”

While Legault seems eager to limit the number of English-speaking students coming to Quebec, the province’s minister of higher education said on Tuesday that anglophones are still “more than welcome to study here in Quebec.”

Also speaking on The Current with Matt Galloway, Déry insisted the goal is to ensure all universities have a level playing field.

It’s a financial decision, as Quebec has been subsidizing the cost of educating out-of-province students, she said. That subsidy costs taxpayers $110 million per year, officials have said.

She said she is “very sensitive” to the situation at Bishop’s, which is a smaller university and may be more heavily affected by the new measures.

“I told them I am going to sit down with them and see what we can do to better accompany them,” she said. “There’s no way Bishop’s will close. We are not going to let this happen.”

with files from The Canadian Press


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