Bishop’s, Concordia and McGill universities are submitting to the Quebec government an enhanced version of their proposal, Proposed improvements to the new tuition model for students outside Quebec, which they presented to the government on November 6. This revised proposal represents a compromise aimed at achieving the objectives of promoting and protecting the French language, while limiting the negative impacts of the measures announced by the Quebec government on October 13.
The Proposed improvements to the new tuition model had been presented to the Minister of Higher Education, Pascale Déry, and Premier François Legault on November 6. There has been no official response, despite the recruitment process for fall 2024 being already well underway.
"Nearly two months after the Quebec government's announcement, Canadian students from outside Quebec are experiencing continued uncertainty as to their tuition for the start of the 2024 academic year. The lack of certainty is causing significant damage, which we are seeing manifested in a sudden and substantial drop in enrolments. English-language universities are therefore suggesting that any new measures should instead be applied from fall 2025 onwards," said Deep Saini, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of McGill University.
"I ask that the government respect the consultation process it put in place with all universities prior to the measures being announced on October 13," added Saini.
Proposed new tuition measures
In the enhanced proposal, the English-language universities put forward a new policy that introduces differentiated tuition, which varies according to the program of study, for Canadian undergraduate students who are not residents of Quebec.
English-language universities suggest three tiers of tuition, depending on the discipline, to maintain the competitiveness of Quebec universities with those of universities in other provinces: $9,000, $14,000 and $20,000. Arts, education and science programs would be in the lower tier, for example, engineering programs would be in the middle tier, while medicine, pharmacy and law programs would be in the highest tier.
The English-language universities reiterate their firm commitment to begin the immediate implementation of various initiatives aimed at promoting and protecting the French language. In their enhanced proposal, they also affirmed their objective that 40% of non-French-speaking undergraduate students achieve level 6 proficiency in French by the time they graduate.
To achieve this, the English-language universities are proposing the introduction of language learning and immersion programs in Quebec culture, subject to the timelines necessary to undertake the normal process for the modification and approval of programs.
"The measures we are proposing would enable us to maintain our competitiveness with other Canadian universities and continue to attract the most promising talent, while significantly improving the cultural and linguistic integration of non-French-speaking students from outside Quebec," explains Sébastien Lebel-Grenier, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Bishop's University.
As for tuition fees for international students, the English-language universities once again request that alternative solutions for balancing university funding be discussed in collaboration with the Bureau de coopération interuniversitaire and the Ministry of Higher Education, to ensure that these solutions are sustainable and equitable for the entire network.
The English-language universities agree that an asymmetrical approach to government funding of certain universities is appropriate. However, the English-language universities support such an approach only to the extent that no university suffers a reduction in its current financial resources, a principle that was affirmed by the Ministry during its review of the Politique québécoise de financement des universités (PQFU).
"We hope that the government will seriously consider our enhanced proposal, and work with universities to develop a policy that benefits all of them, and is good for our society and economy," concluded Graham Carr, President of Concordia University.