GENEVA, SWITZERLAND – Tens of thousands of students protested in Montreal, Canada this week against a planned increase in tuition fees at Quebec universities, announced by the liberal government lead by Prime Minister Jean Charest. The city has seen daily marches since Monday 19 March.
Quebec’s tuition fees, which are by far the lowest in Canada, will increase by C$325 a year, for a five-year period, in order to improve university funding and reduce the province’s debt. Fees will thus rise to C$3,793 in 2017 from their current level at C$2,415.
While many students from other provinces as well as from overseas have been attracted to the province by the low tuition rates, administrators have long claimed that the universities are underfunded, and they welcome the hikes.
Daniel Zizian, head of the Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities told The Canadian Press, “We can’t think that Quebec universities can continue to offer a quality education in the long term with a $600 million shortfall year after year.”
An 1978 agreement between Quebec and France allows French students to benefit from the same low tuition as Canadians. There are currently over 8,000 French students in the province.