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Montreal mayor questions Quebec's tuition hike as English universities see drop in applications


Applications for Concordia and McGill universities are down as Quebec plans to push ahead with the tuition hikes for English universities.

Fewer students from out of the province are applying compared to last year, and on Wednesday, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante questioned the reasoning behind the province's controversial plans. 

At McGill, applications for out-of-province students are down 22 per cent, and down 7 per cent for international students.

Meanwhile, at Concordia, applications for Quebec students are down 5 per cent. It's much higher for out-of-province student, at 27 per cent. International student applications are down 10 per cent.

"It's hugely concerning. And unfortunately, it's pretty much what we had forecasted and tried to explain to the government in the fall when they were announcing their intention to increase increase the tuition," said Concordia president Graham Carr.

Higher Education Minister Pascale Déry is urging caution because applications and enrollment are different.

"We're talking about right now, it's the admissions. There's a limit, a March 1st for the admissions, and then we have to see the registrations. So we need to make sure we all be prudent with the numbers. I'll make sure we see the numbers eventually with the [enrollments," the minister said.

But Carr says this decline is unprecedented.

"It's hard to imagine something coming up in March that's going to overcome a 27 per cent gap. You know, if we were talking about a gap of 2 or 3 per cent, and that's the kind of the normal fluctuation that we might see in a registration cycle from one year to the next," he said.

Quebec plans to move forward with a $3,000 tuition hike for out-of-province students despite an expert committee recommending against a tuition increase.

"Just the money aspect we disagree on, we disagree that the student has to pay more to come here to an English university than a French university," said Eric Tessier, president of the Comité consultatif sur l'accessibilité financière aux études (CCAFE).

Mayor Plante says with Bishop's University receiving an exemption, these tuition hikes feel like an attack on Montreal.

"I don't understand why the government would decide to leave Bishop's out of this bill, but it will apply to Montreal's universities. I don't understand. I need to have an explanation. Like, why?" the mayor said Wednesday.

Déry says she will continue working with both universities.

McGill and Concordia have announced scholarships to offset the tuition hikes but both schools expect to lose tens of millions of dollars as a result of the government's plans. Top Stories

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