CEGEP administrators and the provincial government are harshly critical of new educational planks in the Parti Quebecois's election platform.
Over the weekend, party delegates debated multiple methods of restricting access to English CEGEPs in Quebec should the PQ form a government.
“English CEGEPs have been very good, and I commend them, in attracting more students. French CEGEPs must be more successful in attracting these students who want to have good education in English as well. Funding follows the student,” said PQ leader Jean-François Lisée.
Delegates endorsed banning francophones from taking vocational courses at English schools and forcing students at English CEGEPs to take a French test to graduate.
Critics said that last requirement shows the PQ delegates don't know the provincial education system, since all students at English CEGEPs must already take two French courses in order to receive a degree.
But what really drew ire was the PQ's decision that it would cut funding to CEGEPs by following demographics and not the current per-student model.
The PQ's new policy is to gradually reduce funding to English CEGEPs to the same demographic weight that anglophones have in Quebec, based on the notion that only anglophones should be allowed to go an English CEGEP.
Richard Filion, the director of Dawson College, said the move would gut English CEGEPs by halving their budgets.
“I don't think this is a smart proposal. It will create a lot of impact on our capacity to even serve our own community. If gradually we're reduced to the demographic weight of the English community, it will mean our current grant or funding would be reduced by half, which is a lot,” he said.
The Federation of CEGEPs denounced the move and said it would likely be unconstitutional.
“It may not be Bill 101 at the CEGEP level but, indirectly, it's quite the same,” said Bernard Tremblay, the federation’s president.
Quebec's Minister of Higher Education Helene David agreed with that assessment, saying she did not think imposing Bill 101's educational restrictions on CEGEPs would hold up in court.
"When we are talking about post-secondary education, that means something. Post-secondary education means higher education and when we are talking about higher education, we are talking about liberty: liberty of access, liberty of language. Those students in enormous majority are adults. So when we are adults we should have the choice to go to CEGEP or to the college that we choose," said David.