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Calgary teen who dreamed of studying at McGill now looking elsewhere after Quebec's new tuition policy


Daniel Miksha left his home in Calgary to study at McGill University three years ago and it was a decision he doesn't regret.

"I think having a French background, living in a French city, really gives a lot of cultural richness to your life. That's something I genuinely enjoy, and the quality of education you can receive here as well is exceptional," says the 21-year-old neuroscience student.

Daniel's younger sister, Helen, is currently finishing Grade 12 at Henry Wise Wood High School in Calgary. She says her marks are high enough to make it past McGill's strict admission rules but her dream of joining her brother in Quebec was shattered by news that her tuition fees would double to $17,000.

Last week, the Quebec government announced a new rule that would force Canadian out-of-province students, who used to pay $9,000 a year, to pay nearly double that.

The government said the measure is meant to offset the influx of English speakers in Montreal while boosting funding for French universities.

"It shouldn't matter whether you're anglophone or francophone. If there's a high-quality school with a high-quality education, you should be able to go there regardless of how thick your pockets are," Daniel said.

Helen Miksha said she is considering other options, like the University of Toronto or UBC. (Submitted photo)

His sister feels the government has let her down.

"I was really disappointed because I had to start thinking about my other options," says 16-year-old Helen Miksha, just before she left for school.

"So it's really unfair. I've been really set on my dream of going to McGill for quite a few years now and now, suddenly, it's just thrown off course by this because I'm not sure we can do that anymore."

'It's really disappointing to see Quebec making moves like this, the government deciding that they're going to shut out other Canadians,' said Helen Miksha, of the Quebec government's decision to charge out-of-province students twice as much for tuition in 2024. (Submitted photo)

Her parents say they were able to help their older son because he received bursaries to cover tuition. But they doubt they can afford the extra $8,000 on top of living expenses.

"It's still a huge financial burden on the family. So we really have to think about this," says Helen's mother, Eszter Miksha.

"I think we would agree that it was important for us to see our children, learn more about another culture, learn more about Quebec," her husband, Ron, added.

The Miksha family feels it did everything right as Canadians.

"It's really disappointing to see Quebec making moves like this, the government deciding that they're going to shut out other Canadians. And it makes it feel like we are secondary to the Quebec citizens," says Helen, who was hoping to study science.

Helen is now considering a second choice in another province.

"I'm considering other options like McGill's rival, the U of T [University of Toronto] or UBC [University of British Columbia], that kind of thing," she said, much to her brother's chagrin. He gets to stay at McGill because the higher fees don't apply to those already enrolled.

Daniel told CTV News the tuition hike measure makes no sense and that he sees it as a move to "keep people, especially middle-class Canadians, from receiving high-quality education."  

Did you come from out-of-province to study and have now made Quebec your home? We want to hear your story. E-mail us at Top Stories

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