CLASSE pushes for free university education in Quebec

September 24, 2012

Now that the newly elected Parti Québécois government has cancelled the university tuition fee increase in Quebec, the student group CLASSE is turning to free education as its long-term goal. The group says free education is entirely achievable and used a demonstration attended by several hundred people on Saturday to highlight the issue. The PQ government has said it favours indexing tuition to the cost of living but has promised to call a summit on university financing. CLASSE will counter indexing tuition in favour of "education that is free -- not only from tuition fees -- but also from corporate influence," says a group spokesman. CLASSE argues that free university education would cost $700 million annually, representing less than 1% of the total government budget. That money could be generated through better management of universities, cutting funding for scientific research that profits the private sector, and reinstating the capital tax on businesses that was eliminated in 2007. CLASSE expressed its mission, as well as hailed its victories, in an op-ed published in Saturday's Toronto Star. The group responded to critics of the Quebec student movement, stating that "if we are guilty of anything, it is of questioning the dogmas of the rich and powerful, who have spent the last decades trying to lower our expectations for what is politically possible." Canadian Press | CBC | Montreal Gazette | Toronto Star