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Concordia students picket outside classrooms in protest of Quebec's tuition hikes

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Thousands of Concordia University students were on strike Wednesday, with some picketers blocking access to classes in protest of Quebec's tuition hikes for out-of-province and international students.

Organizers say roughly 11,000 Concordia students are partaking in the three-day strike, which is scheduled to end on Friday. On day one, many professors had cancelled classes. 

"The point is to send a message to the Quebec government," Ryan Assaker told CTV News, speaking at a "picket dispatch" area on campus filled with flyers and pamphlets about the strike.

"They do subsidize $11,000 per student for their education, and so [it's about] telling them 'Hey, there might be a risk at this session is cancelled, and therefore all that money you're putting into students is just going to go to waste. So you might as well take off the tuition hikes," continued Assaker, who is with Concordia's Arts and Science Federation of Associations. 

The three-day strike follows a single-day action in November, when students from Quebec's three English-language universities walked out of class in protest.

The strikers are speaking out against Quebec's plan to raise tuition for out-of-province students by over 30 per cent, from $9,000 to a minimum of $12,000 per year.

Tuition will also climb for international students, with the province requiring they pay a base rate of $20,000.

"Out-of-province students and international students enrich Quebecois life and culture, and we want to be able to stay here," said Hannah Jackson with the Concordia Student Union. "Tuition hikes will prevent that richness from coming into Montreal." 

The Quebec government says the hikes are a move to protect the French language, arguing too many non-French speakers come to Quebec for school only to leave after graduation.

In a statement sent to CTV News on Tuesday, a spokesperson for Concordia wrote that "we respect the freedom of students to peacefully protest and to express their views on important issues like the government's measures on tuition fees, but students who want to attend class should be able to do so."

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