Quebec cuts tuition charges for international college students in areas

With the aim of regionalizing immigration and helping to solve the labor shortage, the Quebec government will loosen its purse strings to attract foreign students: from next year, those who attend a cegep or a francophone university in the region will to pay the same monthly fees as Quebecers, a measure estimated at 80 million over four years.

The program will target foreign students who will study in certain specific areas, where there is a serious shortage of manpower, such as information technology, engineering, health and social services, and in the area of ​​education, including the training of first-class educators. childhood. While the average annual cost for international students is $17,000 at CEGEP and $24,000 at university, the government is proposing to reduce these fees to zero for the university level and $3,000 for the university level.

Through this offer, the Minister of Employment and Immigration, Jean Boulet, intends to attract foreign students from Montreal so that they decide to settle permanently. “You discover a community. You become a boyfriend, you become a blonde”, illustrated the minister Boulet, Thursday, when announcing the program, at a press conference in Rimouski.

The program announced Thursday will be “a winner in terms of promoting the learning of French and therefore ensuring a lasting integration into the values ​​of our society”, he commented, promising future foreign students “personalized support” to facilitate their integration in Quebec, in terms of accommodation, for example.

Good news

This announcement was very well received by the leaders of CEGEPs and universities in Quebec. ” Finally ! exclaimed Sylvain Blais, director of the Cégep de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue.

Faced with the high refusal rates of French-speaking foreign students by Immigration Canada, Blais says he has concerns, however. Remember that over the past three years, your CEGEP has found study permit denial rates in excess of 75%. “Some are turned away because of their financial capacity, because they have to prove that they have the means to support themselves for 3-4 years, but here we have just removed significant cost pressure,” he said.

The dean of the University of Quebec at Trois-Rivières (UQTR), where the refusal rate (79%) is the highest among universities, believes that the problem really will have to be resolved at the federal level. “It’s the federal government that creates this bottleneck,” says Christian Blanchette. Even though universities in the region have no recruitment problems and are overwhelmed with applications for admissions, he believes that significantly lowering tuition will help attract quality students. “On our recruiting missions, there are students we would like to have but who tell us it’s too expensive,” he explains.

While Minister Boulet sees the presence of a greater number of foreign students as a solution to the glaring employment needs, the UQTR dean has no illusions: “It will not be the full and complete short-term solution to the shortage of manpower . According to him, it is preferable for students to be able to graduate quickly in order to integrate well into Quebec society. “If they work too hard, they will delay their graduation and their economic integration. »

Housing, the downside

The dean of the Université du Québec à Rimouski, Françoise Deschênes, is pleased with the minister’s announcement, which will make it possible to offer a “continuum” of studies in the same place. “Students who attended CEGEP in the regions often go to large university centers or go back to their countries when they realize that tuition is even higher,” she says.

But he recognizes that the main challenge will be housing. “I can’t hide it, we are among the hardest hit by housing problems, even though we have a 0.2% vacancy rate in Rimouski,” he said. “We will have no choice but to go into additional student housing projects. »

Christian Blanchette of UQTR makes the same observation. “With the announcement that has just been made by the minister, the housing issue has become the priority issue. It is the link in the chain that is broken,” he notes. “We are analyzing this with the cities of Drummondville and Trois-Rivières and are trying to find medium and long-term solutions. »

With the Canadian press

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