Skip to main content

Concordia launches legal challenge to Quebec tuition fee changes

February 23, 2024

Dear Concordians,

Today, after much consultation, assessment and reflection, Concordia initiated a legal challenge to the Government of Quebec’s new tuition policies. 

We do not enter this process lightly. Concordia and our anglophone university partners tried to engage with the government in good faith on the tuition issue throughout the fall. Although the government reduced its initial proposed tuition increase for out-of-province students, it never worked with us in any substantive way to hear, let alone address, our wide-ranging concerns. 

Instead, the government rejected our historic proposal on francization and did not respond to our offer to create a differentiated structure for tuition fees, which would have allowed our universities to remain competitive with others in Quebec and Canada. 

Now, regrettably, we have no choice but to pursue a just outcome through legal action.

The decision to enter a legal challenge is also based on our belief that diversity is a critical driver of excellence and that higher education should be accessible and affordable for everyone. We are advocating for those values and the right to maintain our identity, both of which have been fundamental to our achievements and, which in turn, contribute to the prosperity of Quebec society and are important to the future of our higher education system.

In our court proceedings, we assert that, when making changes to its tuition policies, the government had the obligation to actively consider values inherent to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, including equality among francophone and anglophone linguistic groups and the protection of Quebec’s minority English-language community. We contend that, in addition to weighing and taking into account those values, the government had a responsibility to ensure that its policies did not harm our institution.

We believe the government failed to fulfill these obligations when revising the Règles budgétaires, the policy that governs the finances of Quebec universities. The government significantly increased tuition fees for out-of-province students attending anglophone universities only and imposed a new fee structure for international students that will have disproportionately negative financial consequences for anglophone universities. 

The changes could have a significant and harmful impact on Concordia’s student enrolment, financial well-being and international reputation. Members of the government publicly admitted as much on several occasions. 

McGill University has launched its own legal challenge in response to the new tuition fees. While our legal proceedings are separate, our approaches are complementary and coordinated. Both institutions identified numerous aspects of the policy that violate fundamental tenets of administrative law as well as the Canadian and Quebec charters.

Let me be clear about one essential point: this legal challenge does not diminish Concordia’s commitment to the protection and promotion of French. 

As early as June of last year, we shared with the government an action plan to increase the francization of non-resident students at Concordia. Then, in November, together with Bishop’s University and McGill, we presented an ambitious plan demonstrating our commitment to addressing the decline of French in Montreal, which, as already mentioned, the government rejected. 

Francization efforts continue to be a priority for Concordia, and we will work with the government to develop a reasonable approach to advancing our shared objectives. We want our non-francophone Canadian and international students to be equipped to stay in Quebec after graduation, joining the nearly 180,000 Concordia alumni who live here and contribute meaningfully to the social, economic and cultural vitality of Quebec. 

We anticipate this process could be long, and there will be limits on what can be shared publicly as the proceedings unfold. That said, I will update the community as I am able. 

Thank you for your steadfast commitment to Concordia during these last difficult months and for your continued support going forward.  

Graham Carr
President and Vice-Chancellor

Back to top

© Concordia University