Tuition hypocrisy in Quebec? -

Tuition hypocrisy in Quebec?


This Editorial in The McGill Tribune challenges an aspect of Quebec tuition policy which, I suspect, is relatively unknown in English Canada. An excerpt:

While the Tribune opposes complete deregulation of tuition, it does recognize that a Canadian education is still an affordable alternative when compared to international fees in countries like Britain (where international tuition can cost anywhere from $8,000 to $35,000 per year) or the United States.

What we don’t understand is the current exemption policy for French citizens, which lets them pay Quebec tuition rates. Quebec has not been a French territory since 1763. Currently, a student from a country halfway around the world pays lower tuition than one from Hawkesbury, Ontario (which sits on the other side of a two mile bridge that straddles the border with Quebec), irrespective of their fluency in French. The Quebec tuition rate is also available to some students from more than 40 other countires-including Algeria, Burkina Faso, Luxembourg, and Vietnam-under a similar policy. These are just some of the many mysteries of Quebec’s bizarre post-colonial relationship with France. These policies make even less sense when applied to Anglophone universities like McGill, where French students don’t enjoy the language advantage that they would at a Francophone institution.

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Tuition hypocrisy in Quebec?

  1. the origins of this policy are obviously rooted within Quebec’s connection to La Francophonie, but it’s not purely about colonial history. most institutions in quebec are french speaking. if they want to draw the best minds from around the world, they are in competition with other francophone universities. most francophone universities outside quebec charge almost zero for tuition fees. how can we lure intelligent students from places like france or belgium if the fees at Laval or Universite de Montreal are thousands and thousands of dollars more? UdeM has something like 5,000 international students, and unlike McGill or Concordia, they are coming from Europe, Asia and Africa (not just the USA). quebec universities are competing against places like the Sorbonne or Sciences Po which have very low tuition fees.

    on the flipside, english univerisities that draw international students are competing against the world’s best english institutions. the world’s best english language institutions tend to charge much higher rates – look at harvard, or oxford, or even comparable canadian schools like toronto or ubc.

  2. ‘UdeM has something like 5,000 international students, and unlike McGill or Concordia, they are coming from Europe, Asia and Africa (not just the USA).’

    This statement is completely false. McGill, Concordia and Bishop’s attract far more students from Asian countries that U de M, Laval or any French university (proportionally). Many French citizens attend these universities as well. Actually I would bet that more French citizens attend McGill than any French university except U de M and Laval. I can give you an example I know well. As of two years ago, Bishop’s had an int’l student population of about 10%. Only 1 in 3 were from the USA. The rest were from Dubai, China, Pakistan, India, Colombia, Sweden, France, etc. At Sherbrooke U., less than 3% were int’l. Almost all were from France and northern african countries. On a final note, I am in Australia right now and many int’l students in my class have heard of or know people who attend McGill and Concordia. None know about any other university in Quebec. Oh, and they are from Asia, Europe and Africa…

  3. You must not forget that this agreement that was issued regarding french citizens is bilateral. The Quebecers enjoy the same advantage in French Universities.
    Nothing forbids Ontario (for instance) to sign a similar agreement with the United Kingdom or the United States which would allow similar tuition rates.
    This “advantage”, as you call it, strengthens the bond between Quebec and France educational system.
    Canceling it would only separate the country and the province. It would mean less french citizens studying in Quebec and less Quebecois studying in France.
    I understand that one could argue that McGill being a English-speaking University, and thus should be removed from the agreement. But may I remind that Quebec educational system is after all bilingual. McGill is not a private university and there are some English-speaking CEGEP. Would it be fair that quebecers have a free (because university in France is fully subsidized by the government) access to ALL french universities in France and french citizens only access to part of quebec universities ?

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