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Quebec students protest 75% hike in tuition fees

Friday, March 23, 2012

MONTREAL, Canada (AFP) - Tens of thousands of students protested yesterday against a 75-per cent tuition hike at universities in Canada's mostly French-speaking Quebec province, bringing downtown Montreal to a standstill.

"Yell louder so that nobody ignores us," shouted demonstrators who converged on the metropolis from across the province, packing a two-kilometre stretch of the city's streets.

Since mid-February nearly 300,000 students have boycotted classes, blocked bridges and held smaller protests around the province against the government's plan to raise tuition by $1,625 over the next five years.

Once the fee hike takes effect, Quebec's tuition will still be significantly lower than in other Canadian provinces and neighbouring US states, but higher than in many European countries, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

The rate hike when it begins to take effect in September would also impact nearly 10,000 French students who pay the same fees as local students to study in Quebec as part of an education pact between France and Quebec.