In my previous post on Quebec’s student protests as a microcosm of a global movement against the tenets of neoliberalism, I stated that students with family income below $100,000 would not be affected by Charest’s proposed tuition increase. However, while it’s true that students from middle- and low-income families would be somewhat protected from the increases, my statement did not sufficiently reflect the nuance of the government’s proposal.
In reality, Quebec students with family incomes below $30,000 are currently eligible for bursaries that subsidize the cost of their education. Students with family incomes between this threshold and the $100,000 mark are eligible for Quebec student loans, at comparatively low interest. One of Charest’s attempts at compromise with the students involved raising the maximum threshold of bursary eligibility from $30,000 to $45,000. However, students falling between the $45,000 and $100,000 family income levels would still be required to take on Quebec student loans, or rely on parents/guardians/family to bankroll their education. All in all, this means that any Quebec student with family income exceeding $45,000 will be required to either assume student debt, rely on family for financial support, or work through university at a job which would generally afford h/er a low wage and few prospects for advancement – because of which the student’s allotment of time to h/er studies would most likely suffer.
For the vast majority of Quebec students, therefore, more tuition will equal more debt and/or longer work hours. Meanwhile, the quality of education students receive in Quebec will not improve to a commensurate degree.
I’ve amended my previous post to reflect this reality.