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Quebec and tuition fees: students score the first victory

The Canadian province of Quebec is not one of the more protest-averse parts of the world, but the recent student boycott and protest movement has reached proportions unusual even there.  Trouble apparently first started at the Université Laval in February, but unrest soon spread like wildfire, involving at least 100 000 students province-wide. In recent weeks, teaching stopped at most higher education institutions and large-scale demonstrations took place almost every night. In reaction to the stormy events, the Quebec National Assembly passed a law imposing stricter conditions on legal demonstrations (bill 78), triggering off even bigger rallies. In a demonstration last week, nearly 700 students and supporters were arrested in Montreal and the city of Quebec, according to the Washington Post.

What sparked off the discontent was a proposed gradual increase in tuition fees, from roughly CND 2200 (EUR 1700) in 2012 to about CND 3 800 (EUR 3000) in 2017. Quebec has the by far lowest tuition fee levels in Canada, which would not change even if the increase was to take place. But this argument does not appear to impress the students (and many others). One of the three main student associations involved in the dispute even aims at scrapping fees altogether in the medium term.  As a result of the strong opposition, Quebec education minister and vice-premier, Line Beauchamp, had already stepped down earlier this month. Unlike other currently ongoing student protests in Chile or Spain, the Québécoise seem to have already won the first major battle. However, the final outcome of the tuition war is still to be decided…

Washington Post The Guardian