Quebec City’s only English-language CEGEP has had to turn away hundreds of students due to jam-packed registration.

“A lot of students, around 400 students,” said CEGEP Champlain St. Lawrence campus director Edward Berryman. “We had to say no to them because we’re simply at the maximum capacity.”

Among the college’s students, 75 per cent are graduates from Francophone high schools, 15 per cent are from Anglophone schools and the rest have a mother tongue that is neither English nor French.

“I’m studying in business, so I thought it would be good to learn English better, because it’s a good thing to know the language for my future career,” said student Hubert Levesque, adding his parents had pushed him to attend Champlain St. Lawrence.

It’s a common sentiment in the school, one echoed by student Mireille Boutin.

“I’m probably going to go to an English university, so I thought it would be good to get prepared by going to an English CEGEP before,” she said.

Berryman said many students are seeking to expand their English skills as they prepare to look for work outside Quebec.

“Students know that if they acquire strong skills in English, their value on the job market is going to be very high in the region and it opens the door to the rest of Canada, the United States and so on,” he said.

Student activities coordinator Christian Brosseau said it’s a big change from his time as a student at the college in the 1990s.

“My mother was really skeptical at first, to be honest,” he said. “She was somewhat of a sovereignist and therefore did not see that in too much of a positive light. Both of my sisters had gone to CEGEP Ste-Foy right next door and I was really the first one to make the decision to go study in a second language.”

He added that his doubting mother would eventually come around.

“She actually approved of it,” he said. “She said that it was probably actually going to help me in the future and that was very important to her.”