Quebec students protest tuition increases. (Canadian Press)
Quebec Riot police have been on alert since last night and were called into action today.
The province’s capital has been bracing all week for angry students to be bused in to protest a proposed tuition hike. Today roughly 50 students tried to force their way into Quebec’s Hilton hotel during a conference where cabinet ministers and university officials were discussing university finances. Police made one arrest.
Student groups like the Fédération Étudiante Universitaire du Québec were invited to the meeting. However, representatives left after a few hours, claiming the decision on tuition hikes had already been made.
Quebec’s provincial government lifted a freeze on tuition rates, which could add $500.00 (per year) to undergraduate tuition by 2012. The cap is currently set to $2,400 in annual costs for a university education, but university rectors say they are underfunded by $620 million. They are calling for a $1,500 annual tuition increase, and more help from both the province and the private sector.
Compared to other provinces, Quebec students currently pay the lowest average annual full-time undergraduate tuition fees, at $2,415 per year. The next lowest provincial rate is Newfoundland and Labrador at $2,624, with Ontario having the highest tuition prices at $6,307.