The leaders of the Université de Moncton and the New Brunswick Community College are worried. Quebec will lower tuition fees for non-Canadian students enrolled in post-secondary institutions located outside Montreal.
The government of La Belle Province wishes to attract and retain international students capable of working in economic sectors suffering from a labor shortage in the region. These areas are information technology, engineering, health, social services, education, and childcare.
François Legault’s team will impose on foreigners studying these subjects outside the Montreal metropolitan area the same tuition fees as those of Quebecers, starting in September 2023. In other words, Quebec will offer international students free tuition in colleges and a bill of only $3,000 per year in certain undergraduate studies.
By way of comparison, students from other countries pay $15,000 per year in undergraduate studies at the Université de Moncton (U de M) and $9,500 per year at the New Brunswick Community College (CCNB).
Quebec wishes to attract 1,200 students in four years (note that it welcomed 62,400 foreign students in total in 2021). It will invest $80 million in this measure.
In La Belle Province, the average annual cost for a non-Canadian student without fee exemption amounts to nearly $17,000 at the college level and some $24,000 at the undergraduate level.
Importance of foreign students
The decision of the Legault government worries the U of M and the CCNB. It could have long-term repercussions on French-speaking universities and colleges outside Quebec, according to the directors of the two establishments.
The recruitment of foreign students is important to them. About a third of the CCNB’s 2,250 students are foreigners. The proportion is 27% at the U de M. The rector of the latter, Denis Prud’homme, has also said that attracting international students was the only way to increase the low income of his establishment in June 2021.
“This advert [du Québec] could both reduce our respective abilities to meet labor needs in New Brunswick’s priority sectors, as well as our abilities to actively contribute to Francophone immigration in the province,” said Mr. Prud’homme. and Pierre Zundel, CEO of CCNB, in a joint press release.
The Société de l’Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick (SANB) also has concerns.
“Although this is an excellent initiative by the Quebec government for its own province, it could have repercussions at the level of post-secondary institutions and the recruitment of French-speaking immigrants in general in New Brunswick,” comments its president, Alexandre Cédric Doucet.
New Brunswick Strategies
The New Brunswick Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labor highlights one of its agreements with the U of M. This agreement is expected to increase the number of international students enrolled in the university’s nursing program francophone through scholarships.
“The Department is also working with its partners in the post-secondary education community to develop other strategies to improve recruitment and retention efforts for international students in New Brunswick,” said Communications Officer Geneviève Mallet- Chiasson.
In the meantime, the directors of the CCNB and the U de M say they have planned discussions with the Government of Quebec, in order to find “a fair solution to ensure the vitality of French-speaking communities in a minority context in Canada.”
Recently, the government of François Legault agreed to grant French speakers outside Quebec the study fees applicable to Quebecers for programs that do not exist in French in the rest of Canada only.
“It’s a victory. We arrived at a wording on which everyone agreed”, rejoiced Mr. Doucet about Bill 96, adopted on May 24 at the National Assembly of Quebec.
His association feared that Quebec would encourage Franco-Canadians to turn away from the U de M by granting them preferential rates in its post-secondary institutions.
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International students: U de M and CCNB fear competition from Quebec
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