Quebec tuition hike: Concordia warns it could lose up to 90% of out-of-province students

Click to play video: 'Quebec students protest out-of-province tuition hike'
Quebec students protest out-of-province tuition hike
Hundreds of students took to the streets in a march Monday afternoon to express their outrage against the government's decision to hike tuition fees for out-of-province students in Quebec universities. As Global’s Gloria Henriquez reports, protesters came by the bus load from across Quebec to demand the government reverse its plan. – Oct 30, 2023

Montreal’s Concordia University is warning of “devastating financial implications” if Quebec moves forward with a plan to double tuition for out-of-province students starting next fall.

In an internal message to the university community on Tuesday, Concordia president Graham Carr claimed the new $17,000 tuition for non-Quebec Canadian students — among the highest rates in the country — will price the school out of the domestic market, potentially gutting out-of-province undergraduate registration by up to 90 per cent.

Click to play video: 'Prospective students at McGill open house reconsider options as tuitions get hiked'
Prospective students at McGill open house reconsider options as tuitions get hiked

As a result, Carr said the university is staring down an $8-million revenue loss when the hike takes effect for new students in the 2024-2025 academic year. After four years, as more incoming students are subject to the new tuition rate, the annual revenue loss could reach $32 million, he said.

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“Clearly, the impact of the government’s new policies will dramatically affect our financial situation and shrink our student population,” Carr’s message reads. A “painstaking, program-by-program assessment” of the financial impact of the tuition increase is ongoing, but “whatever the detailed analyses eventually show us, the ramifications will be far-reaching and complex for our operations,” he said.

Quebec’s plan to charge universities $20,000 for each international student could inflict an additional $30-million blow to the university’s finances in four years, Carr continued, resulting in a total annual loss of around $62 million — between nine and 10 per cent of the school’s current budget.

Quebec’s other English-language universities, McGill and Bishop‘s, have warned of similar consequences. Bishop’s principal Sebastien Lebel-Grenier said last month that the new measures could slash the small Sherbrooke-Que. school’s revenue by as much as one-fourth.

Despite the three universities’ overtures to the provincial government, Carr said Tuesday Concordia has “received no indication to this point that the government is prepared to reconsider its actions.”

Click to play video: 'Montreal restaurant owner who moved from Ontario speaking out against Quebec’s tuition hike'
Montreal restaurant owner who moved from Ontario speaking out against Quebec’s tuition hike

Quebec’s Higher Education Department said Wednesday morning it was unable to immediately provide a comment. But Premier François Legault stood by the measures on Monday, saying English schools’ share of the province’s university student population — 25 per cent, according to the premier — is “a bit too much.”

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The idea, he said, is to “stop the rise in the number of anglophone students in Quebec.” He said he was willing to meet with the leaders of Bishop’s, Concordia and McGill to hear their suggestions for alternative means to reach that goal.

In an emailed statement, Concordia University spokesperson Vannina Maestracci said the school will continue to update its community as it assesses the potential effects of the tuition change.

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