Quebec’s Minister of Education, Hélène David, has announced that the provincial government will inject an additional $12 million into the Quebec’s higher education system by March 31, 2017, with the majority of the money destined for CÉGEP (college) expenditures. Almost one third of this money is targeted towards taking care of, and retaining, international students — particularly in regional areas.
Speaking with Le Devoir, a major independent French-language newspaper in Quebec, David confirmed this sum will meet some of the needs of Quebec’s college and university networks.
David noted four priority areas for spending:
1. Supplementary training, at university or college level, for newcomers to Quebec.
This is particularly important as newcomers practising certain occupations are required to pursue further training and obtain a license before they can work in that occupation in Quebec. David gave the example of John Abbott College, a CÉGEP in Montreal’s West Island area, which was recently forced to refuse applications from immigrant nurses due to a lack of funding.
2. Investment in Attestation des études collégiales (Attestation of Collegial Studies, AEC/ACS).
AEC/ACS programs are short college programs targeted at adult or continuing students. These programs are based on the common Diplôme d’études collégiales (Diploma of Collegial Studies, DEC/DCS) but allow the student to complete the requirements in a shorter time-frame. In order to undertake an AEC/ACS program, a prospective student must have been out of full-time education for at least a year. The credential is recognized by the Ministry of Education, employers, and licensing boards. Courses focus on preparing students to enter the labour market. “The ACS is a whole world of its own,” said David to Le Devoir. “It’s an important world because we see that there are more and more people looking for short-term training programs.”
3. Lowering of cohort thresholds in regional CÉGEPs.
Due to demographic decline in regional and rural areas of the province, several CÉGEPs are facing the decision to cancel certain training programs because there are not enough students. David intends to lower the minimum threshold for course enrollment, in order to encourage students to remain in their region. This involves costs, but will help to improve opportunities for students in smaller Quebec towns and regions.
4. Attraction of international students to regional CÉGEPs and universities.
Finally, David wants to attract students from abroad to institutions in less-populated regions. The vast majority of international students in Quebec study in Montreal, and the Ministry is committed to ensuring international students know about the excellent education opportunities elsewhere in the province. At the recent Summit of la Francophonie (French-speaking countries), which took place at the end of November in Madagascar, Quebec’s Prime Minister Philippe Couillard announced that $3.5 million would be allocated towards establishing scholarships and tuition exemptions for students from the South [sic – the “South” was not defined].
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