MONTREAL -- A consultation on success in higher education begins Monday, as the graduation rate has stagnated for 10 years in Quebec.

The Ministry of Higher Education considers this rate to be "particularly low and worrying for college education." The ministry is therefore launching a Workshop on Success in Higher Education, which will be held from Feb. 1 to 5.

The consultation does not include pandemic mental health, which was the subject of another consultation on Jan. 26 and 27.

The ministry explains that this project was launched "to resolve various issues related to accessing higher education, the perseverance of students in their training project and their success."


For CEGEP students, success is closely linked to the student condition and financial insecurity.

"The conditions in which a person who is a student evolves will necessarily affect his learning, his predisposition to succeed," said College Student Federation (FECQ) president Noémie Veilleux.

She explained that a student who experiences anxiety because he has to work in addition to studying, to make ends meet, will find it more difficult to concentrate on his studies. He or she may be less motivated and this will decrease their chances of success.

The FECQ is therefore asking for more financial assistance for studies. Education Minister Danielle McCann has already announced the addition of $300 million in assistance.

"We approach the cost of living with this additional help," said Veilleux, but she fears that the amount will not recur.

Improving success also requires improving student housing conditions, she argues. She points out that 30 per cent of college students are tenants and that too few have access to residences in CEGEP.


As for the Federation of CEGEP teachers, affiliated with the CSQ, president Lucie Page reminds the province not to see success only with rates, only numbers.

She points out, for example, that CEGEPs welcome many more young people with special needs or with disabilities than before, and this has an effect on the overall success rate since these young people face more obstacles than others.

"We have increased accessibility to CEGEP, which is not necessarily a bad thing," she argues.

Although Page welcomes this Workshop on Success, she believes that there should be a broader reflection on education, a "Parent 2.0 Commission."

"If we don't think about education globally, in the sense of education, in its place, well we're just going to put in measures," she said. "We add them up and there you are supposed to increase your success rates with that because you have taken so many measures. We need to think more generally about accessibility and success."

For the purposes of this Building on Success, invitations were sent to student federations, union organizations, all college and university educational institutions, as well as representative organizations, the ministry said.

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 31, 2021.