Montreal Students Protest Tuition Hikes

Yesterday, over 200,000 students demonstrated against the proposed tuition hikes in Montreal. The proposed tuition hike would increase annual tuition fees by $325 according to CBC News.

Coming from Lebanon and having watched the Arab Spring, it was unusual for me to see a protest that didn’t arise from a few bombs, a dictator or an assassination, but I digress.

I fully support the students’ right to peacefully protest something they oppose.  However, I don’t feel that a $325 increase in annual tuition fees warrants a city wide protest. Quebec still has one of  the lowest university tuition fees in Canada. Students seem to forget that if the tuition fees paid by Quebec students are not increased, the universities will just keep increasing international student fees.

For example, a Quebec undergraduate student in the University of Montreal will pay about $72.26 per credit, while an international undergraduate student pays between  $485.39 to $639.97 per credit. That is a difference of over 500%. If international student tuition fees continue to increase, many international students will choose to pursue their higher education elsewhere.

The tuition fees subsidization may also give the provincial government justification to increase taxes, without having to prove that the tax revenue went to supporting university education programs.

Yes taxes will continue to increase and yes, universities may continue to spend their revenue on shiny new buildings without spending on the actual programs. But keeping the Quebec students’ tuition fees at the level they are while increasing international students’ tuition fees is not the answer. I do believe higher education should be a right for every individual, but the right shouldn’t be awarded to one group of students and not another.

What do you think about the Montreal Student Protests and why?

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