Two Universities Sue Quebec Over English Education Tuition Hike


(MENAFN- The Peninsula) AFP

Montreal: Two English-language universities in Quebec took legal action Friday against upcoming tuition hikes, as the government in the predominantly French-speaking province moves to protect its linguistic heritage.

McGill and Concordia fear a chill in enrollment following Quebec's announcement in December that tuition for non-Quebec residents at anglophone universities will increase from about Can$9,000 to Can$12,000 (US$7,000 to US$9,000) at the start of the next school year.

Part of its stated justification was to bolster the use of French in a province that has long feared threats of English intrusion on its unique French-speaking identity, with additional funds raised meant to support francophone universities and educational programs.

In separate but similar appeals, McGill and Concordia asked the Quebec Superior Court to suspend the application of the reform, saying it is discriminatory -- because it treats French and English speakers differently -- and will hurt their institutions financially.

"We are undertaking this legal action because we believe that these measures are illegal and if upheld, will threaten McGill's mission, its place as one of the world's top universities and its vital role in Quebec," McGill president Deep Saini said in a statement.

Graham Carr, the president of Concordia, said the decision to sue was taken "based on our belief that diversity is a critical driver of excellence and that higher education should be accessible and affordable for everyone."

French is Canada's second official language but is spoken mostly in Quebec. The number of French speakers across the country fell to 20 percent in 2021, from 22 percent five years earlier, according to latest census data.

In December, Quebec's Minister of Higher Education Pascale Dery lamented a drop in the use of French notably in Montreal -- where McGill and Concordia are located -- saying with its plan to hike tuition the government was "putting the brakes on the decline of French in Montreal."

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