International Students Could Face Hikes

Quebec in Talks Over 2016-2017 Higher Education Budget

File Photo Jonathan Caragay-Cook

Quebec’s education ministry has yet to release its university budget model for next year, but the province is considering slashing subsidies again and allowing universities to raise international tuition by 25 per cent to recoup the losses.

The information was published by La Presse last week, who cited a source within the ministry, although the minister spokesperson Catherine Poulin said “no decisions were made on the subject.”

For a full-time international students taking 30 credits a year, the hike could add up to $3,000 to $3,500 more in annual fees. Quebec students currently pay about $2,300 in tuition fees for a full-time courseload, and out-of province Canadian students pay about $7,000 annually.

The sum of the potential budget cuts were not announced. Since 2012, Concordia has lost more than $30 million from its annual government funding.

“The article in La Presse Plus was referring to a meeting with the Bureau de coordination interuniversitaire,” she said in an email. The meeting took place mid-January, before the new Minister of Higher Education, Pierre Moreau, assumed his position after the cabinet shuffle. The Bureau de coordination interuniversitaire is a Quebec university lobby group formed in early 2014.

Raising tuition for foreign students was presented as one scenario among others, she added.

Provincial student associations Union étudiante du Québec (UEQ) and Association for the Voice of Education in Québec (AVEQ) have already criticized potential tuition increases.

“It’s certainly a policy that’s well within policies governments have been doing in the past few years,” said AVEQ’s interim Communications Coordinator Isaac Stethem. “International students [will be] hit with an additional burden.”

If universities start controlling international tuition, regional universities with fewer international students will suffer from the funding gap, according to Stethem, who said a core part of AVEQ’s mission is to bring together all students from across province. Concordia has the second largest international student population in Quebec, after McGill.

Some universities, including McGill, have been asking Quebec for the ability to control international tuition, Stethem said.

“The idea that the Quebec government is further considering damaging cuts to public services like education is absolutely deplorable,” said Concordia Student Union General Coordinator Terry Wilkings. “To compound the issue, the open-ended remarks about balancing University budgets off the backs of international students is egregious.”

The CSU has denounced budget cuts and will “utilize all resources at its disposal to resist this new approach of financially segregated education,” according to Wilkings.