Quebec universities to cut tuition fees for int’l students — with a catch

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“Parlez-vous français?” If so, good news: you may be eligible for a tuition fee discount in Canada. Starting from September 2023, Francophone international students will be able to enjoy domestic tuition rates in certain Quebec universities and colleges — if they’re willing to study in the outskirts. 

Under this scheme, foreign students will only need to fork out approximately 3,000 Canadian dollars per year compared to the usual CA$24,000 needed to settle tuition fees at the undergraduate level in Quebec universities, according to a press release issued on Thursday. Those studying in public colleges (or “CEGEPs”) will enjoy free tuition just like resident students.

To qualify for the tuition cut, international students must be:

  • Registered full-time in university and colleges outside the territory of the Communauté métropolitaine de Montréal (known as the “Greater Montreal” area)
  • Both your residence and place of study must be outside of Greater Montreal
  • Enrolled in a programme of study in French related to one of the fields identified as “priorities” by the government of Quebec

The sectors identified as “priorities” so far are information technology, engineering, health and social services, education, and educational childcare services. 

Minister of Labour Jean Boulet mentioned that the strategy was part of Quebec’s plan to draw and retain international students in the French-speaking region in the statement. A total of CA$80 million will be allocated over the next four years to galvanise international students to pursue post-secondary education in French in selected regions outside of metropolitan areas.

Reduced tuition fees for int’l students in Quebec universities and colleges

The sectors identified as “priorities” by the Quebec government include information technology, engineering, health and social services, education, and educational childcare services. Source: Sameer Al-Doumy/AFP

Slashed tuition in Quebec universities to drive immigration and worker shortage

The move is aimed at filling in-demand job sectors and promoting the long-term settlement of overseas students in the designated regions. “This is a win for French-language education and, as a result, ensures the long-term integration of these immigrants into our society and its values,” Boulet said in the statement, which was written in French. 

“Our government is committed to working towards a truly regional model of immigration and in encouraging the vitality of our educational institutions, our economy, and Quebecois society. This is a win-win situation.”

“This new strategy will provide a further incentive for international students to attend our educational institutions in the outlying regions,” Advanced Education Minister Danielle McCann was quoted saying in the statement. 

The province had been introducing measures to push more students to enter sectors facing labour shortages at the local level. Earlier in January, the government released a new incentive scholarship initiative for full-time Quebecois students in various CEGEPs and private tertiary institutions which will take effect in Fall 2022. The scholarships will apply to 233 relevant courses, with amounts ranging from CA$9,000 to CA$20,000, depending on the programme. 

Presently, three-quarters of overseas students who study in the province settle within Montreal, CTV News reports. The province targets 1,200 new international students to enrol in French-speaking Quebec universities and CEGEPs located in the outer regions within the next four years. 

Unlike other provinces like Ontario or British Columbia, the student-to-immigrant route in Quebec has a lower success rate. The pandemic saw significant changes to provincial immigration programmes that added new hurdles to obtaining permanent resident status.

For instance, the Quebec Experience Programme (PEQ) has demanded increased work experience for temporary workers and foreign graduates in Quebec since the changes took effect on July 22, 2021. Spouses of principal applicants must now also demonstrate speaking proficiency in the French language at level four by spouses of principal applicants.





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