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Thousands of students set to march Monday against tuition fee hikes in Quebec

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About 400 to 600 students from Bishop's University in Sherbrooke, Que. are planning to travel by bus to Montreal on Monday to attend a large protest against tuition hikes for out-of-province and international students.

One of the protest organizers, McGill University student Alex O'Neill, confirmed that Bishop's students would be in attendance following a town hall meeting Wednesday night to discuss demonstration logistics.

He said he felt it was essential to include students from Bishop's in the movement.

"[We had] a long discussion hearing from everyone and their concerns, [with] emphasis on the access to education issue," O'Neill told CTV News. "We had everyone discuss amongst themselves how to mobilize the in-province students. [It] was very much framed as something that students saw as an attack on English as a language of academic exchange."

Plans to protest ignited after the provincial government announced that out-of-province and international students would be charged more to attend university in Quebec.

The Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government states that tuition for out-of-province students will jump from $8,992 to $17,000 starting next fall.

International students will have to pay a minimum of $20,000, and the money collected is slated to be reinvested in the French university system.

Wednesday evening, O'Neill says the students also discussed what they wanted to do should the Quebec government rescind its proposal -- or not.

"Posters went up today, and the word has gotten out fast," he said.

Though the CAQ insists the hikes are not an attack on English speakers, it did say it wants to protect the French language, particularly in Montreal, by making it more expensive for students who, according to the government, come to Quebec to study in English only to leave after graduation.

Some students will be exempt from paying higher fees, such as those covered by international agreements, including France and Belgium.

The measure also does not apply to medical or PhD students, but it does apply to all undergraduate and graduate programs, including Master's programs.

The one-day strike action, dubbed the "blue fall protest," is expected to see thousands of students march from Dorchester Square in downtown Montreal at 1 p.m. to the front of McGill University's Roddick Gates.

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