Thousands of students from McGill, Concordia, and Bishop’s universities are set to take to the streets of Montreal on Monday to protest against the Quebec government’s decision to double tuition fees for out-of-province students starting next fall.
The Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government announced on October 13 that, beginning in September 2024, tuition for new out-of-province undergraduate and master’s students will increase to approximately $17,000 a year, nearly double the current cost.
The protest has been named the “blue fall protest” and is organized by McGill student Alex O’Neill and Concordia student Noah Sparrow. In a recent statement on the protest’s Instagram page, O’Neill and Sparrow described the movement as a grassroots campaign, stating, “We are all aligned and attending the protest for one key reason: to keep education as accessible as possible.”
The march is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. from Dorchester Square in downtown Montreal, passing by Concordia University, and ending at McGill University’s Roddick Gates, where a rally will be held. Students have been encouraged to wear their university colors as a show of solidarity.
In support of the movement, the students’ council at Bishop’s University is planning to bus hundreds of students from their campus to the protest. The university, located about 160 kilometers from Montreal in the Eastern Townships, is particularly at risk due to the tuition hikes, with some 30 percent of their students coming from out-of-province.
Next year, tuition for out-of-province students will increase from $8,992 to $17,000, while international students will face a minimum tuition fee of $20,000.
The CAQ government has argued that out-of-province students are a threat to the French language, claiming they do not learn the language and often leave the province after completing their studies. However, the government has not provided data to back these statements. The extra tuition revenue is expected to be used to improve the French university system.
This move by the Quebec government has faced widespread criticism from English and French universities, the business community, the Mayor of Montreal, Quebec opposition parties, and federal Members of Parliament.