“Catastrophic for us”

“Catastrophic for us”

Bishop’s Principal talks Quebec government tuition hike for out-of-province students


By William Crooks

Local Journalism Initiative


Bishop’s University (BU) Principal and Vice-Chancellor Sébastien Lebel-Grenier characterizes the Quebec government’s proposed 2024 tuition hike at English-language universities for out-of-province students as “catastrophic”. Starting in 2024, new  out-of-province students will have to pay around $17,000 per year in place of the $9,000 current students pay now. Furthermore, a new minimum will be set for international students, much of which will be “confiscated” and used to support programs to strengthen French in the province.

The provincial government is putting forward two measures, Lebel-Grenier confirmed, both of which “are going to have a hit on [BU]”.

The first is the most detrimental – a proposal to double the tuition fees for out-of-province Canadian students. Presently, these students are paying roughly $9,000 per year, which is comparable to the average tuition they would have to pay elsewhere in Canada according to the latest figures from Statistics Canada.

The new fees will increase starting next September and affect all three English-language universities in Quebec. Out-of-province students will be priced out, Lebel-Grenier insisted; the fee increase will be “prohibitive”. He expects BU will lose much of that category of student, which makes up around 30 per cent of the BU student body. “Do the math,” he said, “it’s catastrophic for us.”

The second measure applies to international students. The government will be imposing a new minimum on tuition fees for them: $20,000 per year. This will not directly impact BU’s capacity to attract these students, he continued, because BU and other English-language universities are already charging more than that. BU’s international fees amount to around $25,000 a year, and McGill can charge quite a bit more depending on the program. However, he said, the government plans on additionally “clawing back” a portion of that money and distributing it amongst francophone universities and other institutions, which constitutes a “direct financial hit”. This will impede BU’s ability to provide its programs and services to all its students, he went on.

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