WORLD NEWS Quebec reduces tuition hike for out-of-province students, adds requirement...

Quebec reduces tuition hike for out-of-province students, adds requirement to learn French | CBC News


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Students from outside of Quebec attending an English-language university will still have to pay more in tuition next year but not as much as the government initially announced.

But there’s a catch: most of them will have to learn French. 

Quebec’s three English-language universities — McGill, Concordia and Bishop’s — will have to ensure that 80 per cent of their out-of-province students learn French. Those students will need to demonstrate a Level 5 oral proficiency — essentially the ability to hold a conversation — by the end of their undergraduate studies.

The French-language requirement comes into effect for new students as of the 2025-26 academic year. But, as of next fall, the 2024-25 academic year, new Canadian students from outside the province will pay a minimum of $12,000 in tuition.

That’s an increase over the $8,992 they currently pay, but a step back from the $17,000 that the Quebec government initially had in mind. 

Quebec’s higher education minister, Pascale Déry, made the announcement in a letter sent to the heads of English-language universities on Thursday morning. 

Bishop’s University, a small anglophone institution in the Eastern Townships, will have some exemption from the new tuition increases. It will be able to offer tuition fees at the current rate — $8,992 — to 825 students from the rest of Canada, a number set by the government. 

Bishop’s will still have to hit the same francization goals as the other universities, ensuring 80 per cent of out-of-province students reach the Level-5 proficiency. Unlike McGill and Concordia, Quebec’s other two English universities, Bishop’s government funding will not be directly tied to hitting that mark. 

McGill and Concordia could see their funding dedicated to acquiring students from outside the province reduced if they don’t manage to teach French to enough students.

WATCH | Students decry Quebec’s planned tuition hike:

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

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

The move is part of a bid by Déry to reduce what she and the CAQ government have described as the decline of French in the province. 

In her letter, Déry said the measures are intended to “correct the financial imbalance between the anglophone and francophone university network and ensure a better retention and integration rate of Canadian and international students to Quebec society.” 

In October, Déry announced that tuition fees would be doubled for students from the rest of Canada studying in Quebec. Anglophone students coming to McGill and Concordia University in Montreal were contributing to the decline of French in the city, she said. 

The higher fees were both intended as a dissuasive measure, she and Premier François Legault said, and as a way to collect more money that the government could distribute to French universities, which attract fewer of those students from outside of Quebec — and earn less money from tuition fees as a result. 

The heads of Quebec’s three English-language universities had said the measure would decimate their funding and unfairly disadvantage them. 

In response, they proposed a counter-offer to the government, offering several measures, including mandatory French-as-a-second-language courses to their students. 

Déry, in her letter, said the university heads had recognized the decline of French in Quebec. 

Despite that, she said the universities’ offer didn’t go far enough. 

Bishop’s University called the announcement a “positive outcome” in a news release. Principal and vice-chancellor Sébastien Lebel-Grenier said in a statement that anglophone and francophone members of the Eastern Townships’ community had successfully pushed for Bishop’s to be exempt from some of the effects of the tuition increases. 

“They were able to convince the Quebec government that we and the students we welcome to campus from the rest of Canada are not a threat to the French language but rather an essential part of what makes our region unique,” he said in a statement. 

Bishop’s currently welcomes approximately 800 out-of-province students each year. Under the new rules, it will be allowed to welcome a maximum of 825 students from the rest of Canada at the current tuition rate, but no more. 

International students will see their minimum tuition fees set to roughly $20,000 as a result of the government’s decision, Lebel-Grenier said, an amount that likely won’t affect the amount they pay, because they already pay above that amount. 

However, “a significant amount” of that money will be “clawed back for redistribution to French-language universities,” costing Bishop’s $1.8 million annually, said Lebel-Grenier.


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