Labor shortage | Quebec cuts tuition fees for foreign students in the regions

(Quebec) The high labor demand in all regions is driving Quebec to attract more foreign students to fill the thousands of vacancies.

Updated May 19

Jocelyn Richer
The Canadian Press

To attract a greater number of foreign students, the Legault government will target the wallet. He will offer them next year to settle in Quebec at a much lower cost, lowering the high tuition they now have to pay.

But to take advantage of the program, they must meet two essential conditions: forget about the CEGEPs and universities of Montreal, French and English, by enrolling in a French-speaking higher education institution in the regions, while choosing a program that part of the sectors where the labor shortage is greatest.

Quebec wants to kill two birds with one stone: meet the labor needs in the regions and attract immigrants from Montreal.

The cabinet hopes to attract 1,200 foreign students to CEGEPs and universities in the regions within four years. Currently, three quarters of foreigners who come to study in Quebec settle in Montreal.

The reasoning is this: a foreigner who studies in Rimouski, Saguenay or Sherbrooke for a few years, risks settling there permanently.

“You discover a community. You make yourself a boyfriend, you make yourself a blonde,” the Minister of Labor and Immigration, Jean Boulet, illustrated on Thursday, announcing the program, at a press conference in Rimouski.

Quebec, which is home to some 90,000 students of foreign descent, issued 62,000 study permits last year.

The program will be available from September 2023 and has no retroactive effect. For Quebec, the bill is estimated at 80 million over four years.

From $24,000 to $3,000

For example, right now the average annual cost for a foreigner interested in studying in Quebec is nearly $17,000 at the college level and about $24,000 at the undergraduate level.

Once the program takes effect, scheduled for fall 2023, and until graduation, eligible foreign students will pay the same basic tuition fee as Quebecers, i.e., no tuition, and approximately $3,000 annually to the university.

The French, Belgians and Canadians from other provinces already enjoy special status and have to pay annual tuition of $8,186 at the undergraduate level and $2,623 at the second cycle. If they agree to go to the regions and to the targeted sectors, the program will also apply to them.

The priority areas of study will be information technology, engineering, health and social services, as well as education, including early childhood educator training.

The program announced on Thursday will be “a winner in terms of promoting the learning of French and, consequently, ensuring its sustainable integration into the values ​​of our society”, said Minister Boulet, promising future foreign students “personal support” to their regional integration, for example in terms of finding housing.

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