The Quebec government made the announcement on Friday, framing it as a move to stop subsidizing students from the rest of Canada who come to Quebec’s English-language universities for a cheaper education.
Extra fee could get in the way of move to Quebec, Ontario high school students say
As of fall 2024, Canadian students from outside Quebec who come to study at a university in the province will pay twice as much in tuition, a move that’s being slammed by the heads of English-language universities and making some students think twice about moving to the province.
The Quebec government made the announcement on Friday, framing it as a move to stop subsidizing students from the rest of Canada who come to Quebec’s English-language universities.
The minimum cost for out-of-province students to study in Quebec is currently set at $8,992. With the change, it will go up to about $17,000, said Pascale Déry, the province’s minister of higher education.
All of the extra money — essentially half of the new tuition fee that will kick in next year — will go to the Quebec government. That money, which is expected to amount to about $110 million every year, will be used in part to fund Quebec’s French-language universities.
International students will also see their tuition fees climb to a minimum rate of about $20,000, Déry said.
There are exemptions to the new tuition fee:
- Out-of-province and international students who have already started their studies in Quebec.
- Students who come to Quebec as part of international agreements, like those from France or Belgium.
- Out-of-province students enrolled in graduate programs.
“The measures announced will allow us to recover money that will be used to preserve, promote and enhance the French language in the university system,” Jean-François Roberge, the minister of the French language, said in a statement.
In addition to siphoning money to French-language universities, Roberge said, the move would also help protect that language, specifically in the Montreal area.
“When tens of thousands of people arrive on the island of Montreal without a mastery of French, it’s obvious it can have an anglicizing effect on the metropolis,” Roberge said.
WATCH | Students from outside Quebec react to tuition hike:
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.
Move to Quebec could be too expensive, students say
Julia Paquin and Ada Bowen are on their last years of high school in Kingston, Ont. On Friday, they were visiting Concordia University’s campus, contemplating a move to Quebec.
Paquin says she’s taken by the campus facilities and would love to enroll in the urban planning and urban studies program, but after hearing Friday’s announcement, she’s not sure she will be willing to make the move, even with financial support from her parents.
“I might end up staying in the province just to avoid paying that extra fee,” she said.
Bowen, who is considering studying art history, is also thinking of staying put to avoid taking on loans.
Saicharan Mekala, an international student from India, says he is currently paying $17,000 a year. He says he would not have chosen to study in Quebec if he had been forced to pay more in tuition. Now he says Indian students would be better off pursuing their studies in other provinces.
“We have other options outside Quebec,” said Mekala.
The student population of Quebec’s three English-language universities — McGill and Concordia University in Montreal and Bishop’s University in the Lennoxville borough of Sherbrooke, Que. — has a higher proportion of out-of-province and international students than the French-language universities.
Over 22 per cent of the students enrolled at McGill for the fall 2022 semester — some 8,700 students — hail from other Canadian provinces and territories, with another 30 per cent of students coming from abroad.
According to Concordia, about nine per cent of its students come from the rest of Canada. The proportion of students coming from outside the country is 23 per cent.
While the move to increase fees for out-of-province students will primarily affect anglophone students who make up the majority of Canadian students who study in Quebec universities, the price increase will apply to all out-of-province students and that’s regardless of the type of university they choose to study in. That means, for example, the price hike will also affect a francophone student who lives outside of Quebec who comes to the province to study at a French university.
Sébastien Lebel-Grenier, Bishop’s rector and vice-chancellor, told Radio-Canada that the tuition increases would have a “catastrophic” impact on the university located in the province’s Eastern Townships.
He says the government’s decision will do nothing to protect the French language in that region.
“No one here thinks we are a threat to French,” he said, adding that students who choose to enroll at the university do so because they want to embrace the French language.
“We expect support from the government, not penalization,” said Lebel-Grenier.
Graham Carr, Concordia University’s president, says he finds the government’s decision “unacceptable and disrespectful.”
Carr says Quebec is sending a message that the province’s doors are closed for out-of-province anglophone students, and that will harm Quebec’s ability to attract elite talent from the rest of the country and abroad.
McGill University also announced its disappointment with the tuition hikes.
“The measures announced today will have a major, long-term effect on Quebec’s economy,” the university told CBC in a statement.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matthew Lapierre is a digital journalist at CBC Montreal. He previously worked for the Montreal Gazette and the Globe and Mail. You can reach him at email@example.com.
With files from Kwabena Oduro and Radio-Canada