150 Students protest Bachand speech to express opposition to tuition hikes
MONTREAL - About 150 students protested outside the Bonaventure Hotel Friday morning as Finance Minister Raymond Bachand gave a speech inside.
Faced by heavy winds and watchful police, the students expressed discontent with the new fees which they worry will make university unaffordable for many.
Among those most outraged were CEGEP students who will have to foot the higher bill in years upcoming.
"When the students see tuition exploding it gives them a weird message that they are not wanted," said Leo Bureau Blouin, President of the Quebec Federation of Cegep Students.
But Thursday's provincial budget declared that university tuition fees will rise $325 per year for the next five years.
In five years it will cost $1,625 more to attend university in Quebec.
Universities have welcomed the news, which will give them $850 million more in operating revenues over the next six years.
University students currently pay less than $2,000 a year in tuition for their education in Quebec, which is less than half of the $5,000 nation average in Canada.
The Principal and Vice Chancellor of McGill University was happy with the announcement but was not without criticism.
"These are timid steps from a tuition point of view," said Heather Munroe-Blum. "But progress is progresses and we're delighted that there is this movement."
She also criticized it as a "one-size-fits all approach to funding."
Students reserved harsher criticism for the fee hike.
"I work and I live on my own and go to school," said Chad Wolcott, a Concordia University student.
"If tuition increases at all I'll be in a bad position. I‘ll have to work more," he said.
Another student, Lex Gill, said that the $325 increase will pile up to a lot for struggling students.
"That is $325 increase every single year," she said.