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Pop Montreal founder describes the beautiful diversity out-of-province students bring to Quebec

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Pop Montreal music festival founder Dan Seligman credits his career to one simple decision he made as a young person: moving to Montreal from Toronto in 1996 to study at McGill University as an out-of-province student.

After his studies, he says he "accidentally" started working in the Montreal music industry, decided to stay and eventually founded the annual music festival.

READ MORE: Amid tuition hikes, former students share why choosing Montreal was the best decision of their lives

"I got lucky, but it was a lot to do with wanting to stay in Montreal and live here and figure this out," he tells CTV News.

Seligman says he worries that others won't be able to have the same life-changing experience he did.

New tuition hikes imposed by the Quebec government promise to raise fees by 30 per cent from $9,000 to a minimum of $12,000 per year for out-of-province students.

International students would now have to pay a base rate of $20,000, with the government collecting $3,000 in fees.

"It seems quite short-sighted and a bad idea in the long run," said Seligman. "It seems kind of vindictive."

He points out many of his friends came from elsewhere in Canada, fell in love with the city and stayed.

"What makes Montreal interesting is a mix of all kinds of different cultures: French, English, immigrants, students, young people, old people," he tells CTV News. "It's such a great mix of all these things."

Seligman says he worries the tuition hikes could take away from the city's diverse and vibrant arts and culture scene.

"A lot of people, whether they're artists or not, they want to come to Montreal... but secretly, they just want to be in a band," he said. "A lot of young musicians, students, do that because it's an affordable place to live. If tuitions go up drastically, people just won't be able to do that."

Seligman laments the increase could likely affect the festival's future, which is largely supported by young English speakers.

"The success of Pop Montreal is linked to the success of a lot of independent bands," he said, pointing to Arcade Fire, Grimes and Patrick Watson as examples. "A lot of these bands have made their careers in the Montreal indie scene."

The tuition fee increases are set to be implemented at the start of the 2024-25 academic year.

The Quebec government is also demanding that students graduating from English-language universities be evaluated at a Level 5 on the Quebec scale of French-language proficiency by the end of their undergraduate degree program. 

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