A day after thousands of protesters clashed with police in Victoriaville, the four student associations announced Saturday that they had agreed to submit a second offer from the Quebec government to their members.
The details of the offer were revealed at a press conference by representatives of the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ), the Fédération étudiante Collégiale du Québec (FECQ), and the Coalition large de l’Association pour un solidarité syndicale étudiante (CLASSE).
The Quebec government said it would not reduce the impending tuition hikes set to and maintains its offer made on April 27. The offer would see tuition increased by $254 each year for seven years, resulting in a total increase of $1,778. However, the amount students pay would be offset by a reduction in ancillary fees.
From fall 2012 onwards, a hike of $127 per semester – amounting to $254 per year – would be offset by a reduction of $127 in ancillary fees per semester.
According to Martine Desjardins, the FEUQ president, ancillary fees consists of 20 per cent of students fees. She cited McGill students as paying around $1,000 a year in ancillary fees as an example.
To reach the offset, the government is to create a provisional council to look into ways of reducing university spending. The council will consist of 6 rectors from the Conférence des recteurs et des principaux des universités du Québec, 4 representatives of FEUQ, FECQ, CLASSE, and the Table de concertation étudiante du Québec (TaCEQ), 4 trade union representatives, 2 members of the business community chosen by the education minister, 1 representative of the Fédération des cégeps, 1 representative of the education ministry, and one president chosen by the education minister.
The money that will be reduced by the council will be reinvested into universities to decrease student contribution. If the council is unable to find ways of lowering the ancillary fees to offset the hikes, then students will have to pay the sum in full. A permanent council is also to be established.
“We’re taking and bet and saying that we’re going to be capable of blocking the tuition hikes through the sound management of university finances .” said Martine Desjardins, the president of FEUQ.
“But the strike is not over. It’s going to be up to students to decide whether or not to accept the offer,” he added.
Most of the cuts in ancillary fees would be obtained from a reduction in spending on advertising and real estate funds.
“We’re talking about a theoretical tuition freeze,” said Léo Bureau-Blouin, the president of FECQ.