The education system

When discussing the education system in Quebec, an important and unique characteristic should be taken into account. Between high school and university, there’s an institution called the CEGEP, where students can choose to enroll in either a two-year program or a three-year technical program. The former leads to university while the latter is oriented toward direct integration into the job market. In the context of Quebec and this text, they are also commonly referred to as colleges.

Important aspects of these CEGEP’s (colleges) include the mixing of students from different programs in core classes such as French, philosophy and sports, as well as the fact that the education is free, excluding nominal administration and other fees.

Because of the existence of these institutions, university undergraduate programs are only three years long (as opposed to four years found elsewhere in Canada and the USA) and high schools have one less year (eleven, instead of twelve).

Universities in Quebec, like CEGEPs, are all state-funded for the most part, and tuition (contribution by students) is fixed by law: universities can’t choose to charge higher or lower tuition, except for the institutional fees such as registration, administration etc. Furthermore, tuition doesn’t vary from one program to another.

While the total cost of enrollment has gone up over the years through institutional fees, the average cost of attending university for a year in Quebec — around $2500 — is still relatively low by international standards. This is partially due to the fact that in 1968, after a general student strike, tuition was frozen at $500 a year. The tuition remained frozen up until 1990 when it was raised to $930 and again in 2007. Even so, when the government announced in 2011 that it would increase the tuition fees by $1625, it created a lot of discontent.