The provincial party’s most radical base will be satisfied only if English-speaking institutions disappear from Montreal’s landscape. M
McGILL UNIVERSITY has been an integral part of Montreal’s landscape since its founding in 1821, but more than 200 years and twelve Nobel laureates later, the possibility of moving some of its operations out of Quebec now looms over the world-class institution.
The potential relocation is just one of many options being considered by the university as it begins to feel the impact of tuition hikes recently announced by the province’s ruling Coalition Avenir Québec government. Canadian students would go from paying approximately $9,000 to around $17,000, starting in the fall of 2024, while international students will pay a minimum of $20,000.
Education minister Pascale Déry insists the new measures, which could cost universities tens of millions of dollars annually in decreased enrolment, are needed to help rebalance a university network the CAQ sees as favouring the English-language system.
For Quebec’s English speakers, this feels like déjà vu. The announcement, last October, that out-of-province students would see their annual tuition fees double comes on the heels of repeated government efforts to chip away at the English community’s long-standing academic institutions. This includes last year’s attempt to abolish school boards, undermining English CEGEPs (basically, colleges), and creating chaos and confusion by proposing new language requirements and a freeze on enrolment.
Even though the number of Quebec children attending school in French has grown in Quebec over the past two decades, thanks in part to Bill 101, English-language CEGEPs and universities are increasingly popular with Quebec francophones and allophones, leading to the fear that these institutions are being scapegoated by this government because of that popularity.