Tuition hikes 101


Students already knew in 2010 that the Charest government planned on significantly increasing tuition fees, but it was only with the latest provincial budget that the exact amount of this hike was revealed. Having already increased tuition fees by more than 30% in five years ($50 per semester), the Liberal government is now switching into high gear. Starting in Fall 2012, more than $325 per year will be added to students’ bills. Tuition fees will evolve as follows:

Tuition Fee Evolution (excluding ancillary fees)


Before the Present Hikes                  Increase from 2007

2006-2007: $1668                                         –

Before the New Hikes

2011-2012: $2168                                         30%

With the New Hikes

2012-2013: $2493                                         49%

2013-2014: $2818                                         69%

2014-2015: $3143                                         88%

2015-2016: $3468                                         108%

2016-2017: $3793                                         127%

These already alarming figures nonetheless exclude relative fees that have already been increasing for ten years. As the government having clearly indicated that it would not limit fee increases, we can rightly suppose that ancillary fees will not cease after 2017. In 2006-2007, Quebec university students paid an average of $537 per year in ancillary fees. The Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ – University Student Federation of Quebec) has predicted that these will reach nearly $900 per year in 2016-2017 if the present rate of increases continues. The total bill could then look like this:

Tution Fee Evolution (including the estimated evolution of relative fees)


Before the Present Hike                    Increase from 2007

2006-2007: $2206                                         –

Before the New Hikes

2011-2012: $2890                                         31%

With the New Hikes

2016-2017: $4700                                         143%

In the end, this hike will provide the government $332 million. Yet because part of this sum will be reinvested in the loans and bursaries program, the net revenue for the universities will be $216 million. This represents 4.7% of the total budget devoted to universities in 2016-2017.

Improvements to Student Financial Aid (Aide financière aux études – AFE)

In order to lessen the negative effects of the tuition hikes, the government has said that it will reinvest 35% of the sum obtained by increasing tuition fees to financial aid. In all, this represents an additional $116 million added to the AFE, and will be distributed as follows:

$86 million – AFE adjustment aiming at easing the effects of the tuition increase. Essentially, this means that a person already qualified for the maximum bursary will see the financial aid amount increase equally to tuition fees.

$27 million – Reduction of parental contributions as a factor in attributing loans and bursaries. This measure will allow 18 000 bursary students (8.4% of students in 2016) to receive an average of $940 more per year.

$3.7 million – Increase in student loans for those eligible and who do not qualify for a bursary. This basically means that those who are poor enough to have a loan, and but too wealthy to acquire a bursary (an estimated 15 000 people in 2016) will be eligible for an additional loan equivalent to the tuition fee increase.

In all, the tuition hike will probably not affect the poorest students who have access to AFE bursaries. However, the improvements to the loans and bursaries program will not significantly broaden the eligibility criteria. Therefore, those who are currently excluded from Financial Aid will not be able to access additional assistance to face the total 143% increase in tuition fees.

Philanthropy and the Commercialization of Research


The government’s university budget plan is also counting on the development of new revenue sources. On one hand, the government wants to stimulate philanthropy; that is, donations from private organizations or individuals. On the other hand, it hopes that universities will “obtain more private research contracts, and commercialize research results under more favorable conditions.” In these two years, the government plans to gain:

$36 million as a result of the intensification of research commercialization;

$54 million in additional donations (a 50% increase in 5 years at present levels) as a result of developing a philanthropic culture and the establishment of a $10 million government “matching fund”.

It is then out of the question for the government to put constraining fiscal measures into place that would force companies to contribute to our system of education and research from which they nonetheless largely profit. The proposed approach will consist of transforming university research in order for it to correspond to the needs of the market and to be commodifiable.

Government Investments


Finally, the government plans on increasing its net contribution (after inflation of system costs) by $224 million between now and 2016-2017. This represents a 7.2% increase in governmental contribution. In absolute terms, this increase is 35% less than that demanded of students.


In all, the government’s university budget plan expects an additional $530 million by 5 years from now.

–      The tuition fee increase will contribute $216 million (40.7%)

–      The government will contribute $224 million (42.3%)

–      Research commercialization will add $36 million (6.8%)

–      Philanthropy will provide $54 million (10.2%)

This new money will be redistributed as follows:

–      Competitive positioning of universities (10-20%)

–      Management and Administration (5-15%)

–      Teaching (50-60%)

–      Research (15-25%)

For more details, please view the budgetary document concerning education (in French):