As part of Quebec’s push towards gathering funding for francophone universities, the French province will double tuition fees from $8,992 to $17,000 for out-of-province Canadian students attending anglophone universities by next year.
The government will also charge said schools $20,000 for each international student recruited, and direct that money to francophone universities exclusively.
By not subsidizing the education of out-of-province anglophone students who, according to Higher Education Minister Pascale Dery, will leave the province after graduation anyway, Quebec is looking to direct taxpayer money elsewhere.
“It costs the government of Quebec and the taxpayers of Quebec a very high amount of money for students who come here and who don’t stay here.”
Anglophone students coming to the province is one of “the reasons for the decline of the French language in Quebec,” added Jean-Francois Roberge, minister of the French language.
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“That’s not surprising when tens of thousands of people arrive on the island of Montreal without mastering French. It’s obvious that this can have an anglicizing effect on the metropolis.”
Quebec wants to “rebalance our university network, we want to rebalance our language policies here in Montreal. By attracting more francophone students to francophone universities, it’s a way to rebalance it.”
This, however, should not be interpreted as a “measure against anglophones,” according to Dery.
Although Premier Francois Legault described the change as “one more gesture to reverse the decline of French in Quebec,” the three English universities in Quebec – namely McGill (39,500 students; 20% out-of-province), Concordia (46,000 students; 9% out-of-province), and Bishop College (2,650 students; 30% out-of-province) – are predicting a sharp decline in their enrolment and are criticizing this policy.
“I’m shocked and disappointed,” Concordia University principal Graham Carr said in an interview.
He asserts that Quebec is not only raising prices to “make it unaffordable for students coming from elsewhere, but they’re sending out signals, especially in the statements made by (Roberge), that effectively students from the rest of Canada who are not francophone are not particularly welcome.”
“That’s a really, devastatingly poor message to be sending after all the work we’ve done to build Montreal’s reputation.”
Bishop University, which is a small anglophone university in Lennoxville, Quebec, predicts that it would be “very difficult” for it to survive the loss of close to a third of its student body. McGill University principal Deep Saini also expressed his disappointment by the announcement, and called on the government to equip students to succeed in Quebec.
Major, Long-Term Effect
“A thriving knowledge economy requires a global exchange of talent,” he stated.
“The measures announced today will have a major, long-term effect on Quebec’s economy. The skilled people we attract and retain contribute significantly to Quebec and provide our businesses with the highly qualified workforce they so urgently need.”
“We need to open our doors and invest more heavily into equipping them to thrive in Quebec society. Quebec boasts 19 excellent universities, each playing a distinct role in meeting the diverse needs of Quebecers.”
Anglophone universities were not consulted about this change, and will now be forced to implement a policy that would be nothing short of devastating for their finances by a loss of tens of millions of dollars per year.
Half of Concordia’s international graduates stay in Quebec, said Carr, and reported the Montreal Gazette. Last year, for example, the university placed 4,000 students in co-ops with Quebec businesses. If these students are provided with the necessary French-learning tools and given the requisite opportunities, Carr posits that they will stay in Quebec.
Driving Away Talent
However, the enaction of policies such as this one has the potential of driving away talent and investment and penalizing English-language institutions.
Canadian Party of Quebec leader Colin Standish weighed in on the issue, saying that “this shameful move targets people who Quebec society needs the most: highly educated newcomers who spend, live and often stay after their studies.”
“The CAQ government is literally proposing to throw away billions of dollars that these individuals inject into the economy.
“As a Quebecer, I paid the same as all other Canadians when I attended university in Ontario. What is the purpose of this measure except to reduce the size of English-language institutions, create disincentives to talented newcomers, and rob our economy of new human and financial inputs?”
Only out-of-province undergraduate and graduate students will be affected by the rising tuition, while research and PhD students would continue to pay the same rate as before. Students under international agreements would also be exempt, according to The Canadian Press.
The following are exempt to the new tuition fee structure, as per CBC News:
- Out-of-province and international students who have already started studying in Quebec.
- Students who come to Quebec as part of international agreements
- Out-of-province students enrolled in graduate programs.