Hundreds of teenagers and their families packed Concordia University’s downtown Montreal campus on Saturday to attend the school’s fall open house.
Despite the high turnout, Concordia Student Recruitment Director Savvy Papayiannis was left with the impression that the crowd was smaller than in previous years.
“There are no more people, that’s for sure,” Papayiannis said by phone from the event. He could not confirm attendance figures, but concluded: “I feel like there is a drop in attendance.”
Papayiannis said his office is already seeing the impact of Quebec’s decision to increase university tuition for out-of-province students starting next fall, with many people canceling campus visits or withdrawing from recruiting events.
And since the provincial government’s announcement on Oct. 13, calls and emails have been coming in from concerned prospective students, he said, many of whom say the tuition increase — from $8,992 to about $17,000 a year for Canadians outside of Quebec) is an insurmountable financial barrier.
“Every day they criticize us more and more,” Papayiannis said.
“I do not think it’s fair”
Several high school students at the open house said the increase will influence their college decisions. For Gage Crouchman, 17, of Ottawa, that could mean giving up going to school in Quebec.
“It’s a shame,” he lamented. “[For] many students, this will eliminate Montreal as an option.
Crouchman was considering Concordia and nearby McGill University for his undergraduate studies. “If they change it, it’s a possibility,” he said, referring to the government’s decision to impose the tuition increase.
“If not…” Crouchman trailed off. “Definitely not,” his father, Cameron, chimed in.
SEE | With higher tuition, here’s how Quebec compares to other provinces:
Coco Clement, a 17-year-old who traveled from Vancouver to Montreal to visit Concordia, said the new tuition fee makes her less interested in Quebec because of the added financial burden.
“It’s extremely expensive and it makes me not want to come here as often because it’s another thing I have to get over,” Clement said.
Kees Lokker and his father, Jaco, of Grimsby, Ont., said their family could afford the new tuition, but the younger Lokker worried the sum would eliminate opportunities for his friends.
“It’s just going to be even harder for them… to get enough money to go to Concordia, or even a college like McGill,” the 16-year-old said.
He is considering the renowned aerospace and engineering programs in Quebec, but his father said the increase will encourage them to explore other options in Ontario, the United States and Europe.
An undergraduate tuition rate of about $17,000 would be among the highest in the country for domestic students, and the highest outside of specialized undergraduate programs in law, business, dentistry, medicine, veterinary medicine and pharmacy, according to preliminary data from Statistics Canada for the year 2023. 24 academic year.
“I don’t think it’s fair,” Jaco Lokker said, pointing to tuition rates in other provinces.
Quebec defends the measure
Quebec has said the increase will allow it to recover the cost of education for non-Quebec residents. The provincial government also plans to charge universities $20,000 for each international student they recruit.
Premier François Legault defended the move, insisting that Quebec taxpayers should not have to subsidize out-of-province students.
The move is expected to primarily affect Quebec’s three English-language universities (Concordia, McGill and Bishop’s), which serve more non-Quebecose students than French schools. Government officials have cited what they claim is a decline in French in the province in their decision to increase tuition.
Legault said Tuesday that the influx of Anglophone students “threatens the survival of the French.”
Quebec has committed to reinvest the recovered funds in the French-speaking university network.
Students and staff at Montreal’s two English universities, Concordia and McGill, will be called on to miss classes on Monday, October 30, to take part in a march against tuition increases.
Alex O’Neill, a second-year student in the faculty of arts at McGill University, is co-organizing the protest, scheduled for 1 p.m.
Protesters are expected to march from Dorchester Square to McGill University’s Roddick Gates.
O’Neill says the head of the Université du Québec à Montréal student union confirmed on Sunday that its members will join the protest in solidarity and spread the word to students and staff. The University of Montréal has not yet contacted him.
“I think what that ultimately tells us is that this is not entirely a language issue. The fact that I was able to close this gap very easily with French institutions as a McGill student shows that this is much more [of] an economic issue,” he said.
O’Neill says international and out-of-province students are an essential part of not only the province’s economic framework, but also the city’s social and cultural fabric.
He says the move will create an isolated society within Quebec academia and that the negative impact will extend to the city of Montreal.
“If we really want to sustain business, if we want to sustain economic and environmental development, we are not going to maintain this if we are going to have a nationalist and very narrow framework that defines who we can let in… to define the future of Quebec society ”