U de M and CCNB fear competition from Quebec

Leaders at Université de Moncton and New Brunswick Community College are concerned. Quebec cuts tuition fees for non-Canadian students enrolled in post-secondary institutions outside of Montreal.

The government of the province of La Belle aims to attract and retain international students who can work in economic sectors that face labor shortages in the region. These areas are information technology, engineering, health, social services, education and childcare.

François Legault’s team will charge foreigners studying these subjects outside of the Montreal metropolitan area the same tuition fees as Quebecers from September 2023. In other words, Quebec will offer international students free tuition and a bill of only $3,000 per year in select undergraduate degrees.

In 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 New Brunswick Community College (CCNB).

Quebec aims to attract 1,200 students in four years (note that it welcomed a total of 62,400 foreign students in 2021). It will invest $80 million in this measure.

In the province of La Belle, the average annual cost for a non-Canadian student with no tuition waiver is nearly $17,000 at the college level and about $24,000 at the undergraduate level.

Importance of foreign students

The Legault government’s decision worries the U of M and the CCNB. According to the directors of the two institutions, it could have long-term consequences for French-speaking universities and colleges outside Quebec.

The recruitment of foreign students is important to them. About a third of CCNB’s 2,250 students are foreigners. At the U de M, that share is 27%. The latter’s rector, Denis Prud’homme, has also said that attracting international students was the only way to boost the low income of his establishment in June 2021.

“This advert [du Québec] both our capacity to meet labor needs in New Brunswick’s priority sectors, as well as our capacity to actively contribute to Francophone immigration in the province, could diminish,” said Mr. Prud’homme. and Pierre Zundel, CEO from CCNB, in a joint press release.

The Société de l’Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick (SANB) is also concerned.

“While this is an excellent initiative by the Quebec government for its own province, it could have implications at the level of post-secondary institutions and the recruitment of French-speaking immigrants in general in New Brunswick,” said President Alexandre Cédric Doucet. †

New Brunswick Strategies

The New Brunswick Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labor points to 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 francophone nursing program through scholarships.

“The department is also working with its partners in the post-secondary education community to develop other strategies to improve the recruitment and retention of international students in New Brunswick,” said communications officer Geneviève Mallet-Chiasson.

Meanwhile, the directors of the CCNB and the U de M say they are planning talks with the Quebec government 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 of Quebec the tuition fees applicable to Quebecers for programs that exist only in the rest of Canada in French.

“It’s a win. We came up with a wording that everyone agreed on,” delighted Mr. Doucet about Bill 96, passed May 24 in the National Assembly of Quebec.

His association feared Quebec would encourage French Canadians to turn away from the U de M by granting them preferential rates in the post-secondary institutions.

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