Saturday, April 28, 2012

Students continue tuition hike protests in Montreal (April 27)

In spite of the government offering concessions students were out again last night in Montreal protesting with chants that there was no offer just an insult. The students are demanding a freeze at the least whereas the government is not granting that.

The student protests have actually helped the popularity of the unpopular premier Jean Charest. His position on hiking tuition is supported by about 60 per cent of the populace. Even a number of students want the protests to stop and oppose them. There is however a long tradition of student strikes in Quebec. In 1968 strikes managed to achieve a tuition freeze that has only recently been breached.

Among the government concessions is to spread the tuition increase of $ 1,625 over 7 years rather than five. They would also put more funds into bursaries and loans. The Quebec fees at present are the lowest in Canada. Some U.S. students attend McGill because even though they pay about 15,000 per year about 8 times what a Quebec student pays it is still cheaper than an Ivy League college but with comparable quality of education. Protests obviously depend upon local policies. No doubt in Finland where university education is free students would protest if any fees were introduced. In the U.S.students have faced escalating fees and increased debt loads for years but the increases just keep on.

Students protest almost every day in Montreal often tying up traffic. The premier has refused to meet with protest leaders but he is now negotiating in the press obviously.

Student leaders will meet with their members this weekend and votes will be taken to see if there is support for the government offer. Almost 170,000 students have been out of class for months. For more see this article.

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