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Timeline

of free education in Quebec...

  • 50's

    In these years, education in Quebec is far behind the rest of the Occident. The general population is poorly educated and receives an elementary education that is strongly controlled by the Church. Out of the six universities in Quebec, totaling 18,000 students, only three are francophone.

  • 1961

    The Parti Libéral du Québec (PLQ) of Jean Lesage is elected. During the campaign, the liberals promise free education from kindergarten to university, and a plethora of other modern, progressive measures including, free textbooks and stipends to support students. This marks the beginning of the Quiet Revolution.

  • Parent Report 1964

    Written by the Parent Commission, this report is the basis for the modernization of public education in Quebec. It considers that “free education at university level is desirable in the long term” (Parent Report, Vol. 5, p. 238). Following the recommendations of the report, the CÉGEP network is created, the Ministry of Education is founded, research budgets are increased and new programs are established. Thanks to these progressive measures, the number of students doubles between 1964 and 1968.

  • 1968

    First general student strike in Quebec, which will lead to the creation of the universities of Quebec network (UQ). The demands cover a wide range of issues, including free education.

  • 1975 1993

    The National College Students Association of Quebec (ANEEQ), the largest national student associations of the 80’s, has always defended free education. By doing so today, ASSÉ perpetuates the long tradition of our combative student movement.

  • Winter 1990

    For the first time, tuition fees are unfrozen by the Liberal government, marking the end of the principle of “free education through frozen fees” - in other words, as the cost of living increases, tuition fees tend to have lessening effect on the student condition. A shy strike is attempted but fails. The idea of free education will from then on be considered unrealistic and utopian by governments – no matter which party is in power.

  • Autumn 1996

    The PQ government of Lucien Bouchard, with Pauline Marois as Minister of Education, wants to raise tuition fees by 30%. A general strike is launched – despite the reluctance of the FECQ and FEUQ – and eventually the government commits to freezing fees. Incidentally, the federations negotiate higher fees for students from outside Quebec.

  • 2007

    In 2007, the government announces an increase in tuition of $500 per year over five years. The combative wing of the student movement attempts to prevent this hike, in vain. ASSÉ demands free education and publishes a memoir to this effect.

  • Spring 2012

    Faced with the most important tuition hike ever announced, the broadest student strike in the history of Quebec takes place. For thousands of people across the province, a thorough debate on education and universities becomes a necessity.

    For many, free education comes across as the obvious solution to face the growing problem of inaccessibility. Through CLASSE, nearly 100,000 students oppose any tuition hike, in the perspective of free education.

  • Winter 2013

    As the Summit on higher education approaches, free education is discussed more than even before. An increasing number of studies (e. g. IRIS) defends its benefits, both in terms of accessibility, mission or economic benefits.

    It seems increasingly clear that free education is no longer a utopia, but rather a concrete, achievable project that would finally bring the vision of the Parent Report to life: a quality education that is accessible, public, and that contributes to the development and the empowerment of citizens and society as a whole.