The McGill Daily: What are your thoughts on the tuition increases set to begin next September?
Roland Nassim: It is quite unfortunate that the government is taking such actions. At the PGSS, we believe that Quebec graduate students should not pay any tuition, and we advocate for a freeze on the out-of-province and international tuition. We believe that, with this increase, many graduate students will be forced into a situation where they could be unable to pay for tuition along with their other fees. We do not have adequate graduate funding policies across Quebec universities and our financial aid systems, either through the government or the universities, are not enough.
MD: What are your thoughts on the provincial government’s general funding of post-secondary education?
RN: The provincial government’s general funding of post-secondary education (PSE) is about 10 to 15 years behind. The universities’ operating budgets are increasing with enrollment and growth in general, at a time when the government funding remains stagnant. This government needs to make education a priority again and come up with new models of funding for PSE that are more in line with today’s reality.
MD: What feedback have you received from students about the tuition increases?
RN: Students are worried. Many do not buy the argument that this increase is somehow going to improve their education. They understand that this additional money will simply relieve the government from its funding responsibility, including its responsibility to fund student aid. Graduate students are also very concerned with regards to their ability to survive through graduate schools, especially [since] those students enjoy less parental support, have no guaranteed funding packages to rely on at McGill, and have less opportunity or time for employment during their studies. Their average debts at the end of their studies are also an important factor. Overall, students are not happy.
MD: What action will you be taking on Quebec tuition in the near future?
RN: Our activities throughout the year continue with conducting the proper research on the topic, and disseminating the information to our membership. This should serve as an awareness campaign and a tool to better educate the membership.