(Quebec) Soaring labor needs in all regions are driving Quebec to turn more to foreign students to fill the thousands of vacant positions.
Updated May 19
To attract a larger number of foreign students, the Legault government will target the wallet. It will offer them next year to settle in Quebec at a much lower cost, cutting the high tuition fees they currently have to pay.
But in order to take advantage of the program, they will have to meet two essential conditions: forgetting about the CEGEPs and the Universities of Montreal, French and English, enrolling in a francophone higher education institution located in the regions, choosing a program that is part of the sectors of activity where the shortage of labor is greater.
Quebec wants to kill two birds with one stone: to meet the regions’ labor needs and attract immigrants from Montreal.
With this, the government expects to attract 1,200 foreign students to CEGEPs and universities located in the regions in four years. Currently, three quarters of foreigners who come to study in Quebec settle in Montreal.
The reasoning is as follows: a foreigner who studies for a few years in Rimouski, Saguenay or Sherbrooke runs the risk of settling there permanently.
“You discover a community. You become a boyfriend, you become a blonde”, illustrated the Minister of Labor and Immigration, Jean Boulet, on Thursday, when announcing the program, at a press conference in Rimouski.
Quebec, where there are about 90,000 students of foreign origin, issued 62,000 study permits last year.
The program will be available from September 2023 and will not be retroactive. For Quebec, the account is estimated at 80 million spread over four years.
From $24,000 to $3,000
For example, currently, the average annual cost for a foreigner interested in studying in Quebec is around US$17,000 at the university level and around US$24,000 at the undergraduate level.
Once the program goes into effect, scheduled for Fall 2023, and until they graduate, eligible international students will pay the same base fees annually as Quebecers, i.e. no university fees and approximately $3,000 at university.
French, Belgians and Canadians from other provinces already enjoy special status, having to pay annual tuition fees of $8,186 at graduation and $2,623 at second cycle. If they agree to go to the targeted regions and sectors, the program will also apply to them.
The priority sectors of study will be information technologies, engineering, health and social services, as well as the field of education, including the training of early childhood educators.
The program announced on Thursday will be “a winner in terms of promoting the learning of French and, consequently, ensuring a lasting integration into the values of our society”, commented Minister Boulet, who promised future foreign students “personalized support” to facilitate their regional integration, in terms of accommodation, for example.