Charest increases tuition fees - Students firmly oppose all fee increases

    MONTREAL, April 24 /CNW Telbec/ - Following the announcement made by the
Charest government that tuition fees are to be increased, student associations
reaffirm their opposition to all fee increases, and denounce the fact that no
debate whatsoever took place in the National Assembly in this regard.
    Jean Charest, as promised during the electoral campaign, decreed a 30%
increase in tuition fees. Justifying this, Charest refers to missing funds due
to the so-called freeze in place since 1994. The government is therefore
moving forward in asking students to pay more without ever mentioning whether
additional public funds will be invested in universities. Even with this
considerable increase in fees, only a quarter of the problem will be addressed
because the underfunding of Quebec universities is estimated to be a whopping
$400 million. "This tuition fee increase decreed by the Liberal government
simply does not come close to solving the funding problem of our
universities," says Karine Millaire, president of Laval University's
undergraduate student association.
    A recent study showed that a university graduate pays in a lifetime
around $450,000 more taxes on average than a cegep graduate, which amounts to
several hundred times the tuition fee increase. Why should today's students
pay an increase in fees when they will be tomorrow's largest taxpayers?
"Students will do their part by paying a lot of taxes all of their lives. Let
them study instead of forcing them to take two or three jobs while studying
or, even worse, drop out," pleads Max Silverman, vice-president external of
the Students' Society of McGill University.
    Also, students disapprove of the Charest government's decision to
increase tuition by a simple amendment of the budgetary rules and not by way
of a public debate. "This is a major societal issue which deserves a
full-scope debate. It is unacceptable that a minority government would make
such a decision without even bringing it to the National Assembly for public
examination," insists Ms. Millaire. Students are justified in calling into
question the legitimacy of this decision in view of the latest elections
    In the upcoming months, students will be called upon to mobilize more
than ever. Much like in 1989 when the last tuition increase was decreed, the
Liberal government acted in the last days of the semester, while the remaining
students on campus are in examination period. "If Jean Charest thinks that
acting this way will shield him from student protests, he's in for a surprise.
We have been ready to mobilize for many months now, and summer holidays will
not prevent students from being ready when classes begin in September,"
concluded Alexandre Gauthier, vice-president external of the AGEUQTR.

    The signatories, CADEUL, SSMU, AGEUQTR, AGECAR and AGEUQO are student
associations representing 65,000 students across Quebec.

For further information:

For further information: Boris Savoie-Doyer, Communication and Political
Affairs Coordinator, Students Society of McGill University, (514) 398-8036,
Fax: (514) 398-7490,

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