BU principal says hang tight
By Matthew McCully
During a press conference held Friday, Nov. 24 to inaugurate a new quantum technology lab in Sherbrooke, Premier Francois Legault took advantage of his visit to indicate that Bishop’s University (BU) would not be subject to the same tuition hikes proposed for out-of-province students, announced in early October by Higher Education Minister Pascale Déry.
Legault’s comments were in stark contrast to his early statements about a possible exemption for Bishop’s, as reported in La Tribune on Oct. 18: “Legault “a fermé la porte” (closed the door) on an exemption for Bishop’s University, and consistent with more recent statements about different measures for BU.
During his opening remarks Friday, the premier praised Saint-François MNA Geneviève Hébert for her efforts in recent weeks to get an exemption from the CAQ’s new tuition policy for Bishop’s University.
“She has been fighting in recent weeks for Bishop’s to be exempt from these new measures,” Legault said, “Because yes, there is cause for concern about the future of French in Montreal, but I’m not worried about that in Sherbrooke.”
Bishop’s wants it in writing
Legault’s comments on Friday were not enough to sound the victory bells across campus.
Following a brief published by The Record on Friday afternoon highlighting Legault’s intention to give Bishop’s a reprieve from the tuition proposal, the university released a statement acknowledging the premier’s comments, but asking the BU community to remain vigilant.
“Although this is not a formal announcement of a definitive decision on the tuition hikes for out-of-province students that were announced last October 13, it lines up with what the Premier and Minister Déry have been publicly and privately saying since, namely that Bishop’s and its approximately 800 Canadian out-of-province students are not a threat to the vitality of the French language in the Eastern Townships and that special measures are warranted for Bishop’s,” the statement reads.
“While this is reassuring and positive for our institution, I stress we are still awaiting a final decision by government.”
A letter from Principal Lebel-Grenier sent out to the BU community included the same information, along with the following:
“Constructive discussions are ongoing and, as I indicated in yesterday’s message to community, I hope to be able to provide you encouraging news by the end of next week.”
The letter went on to recognize the resilience demonstrated so far and asked the community to remain strong and united while “hopefully, we are moving toward a solution.”