Some new students at Concordia and McGill universities could lose their fall semester before it has begun because of the student strike. About 770 students from French language CEGEPs that went on strike are enrolled for the coming semester at the two English universities.
The suspended winter term at CEGEPs that went on strike was postponed until now. Students at those schools are able to finish their studies over the next eight weeks, if their student association votes to go back to class.
Many French-language universities are starting their fall semesters in October to accommodate the late arrivals. But most of those who were planning to go to an English-language university are facing a crunch.
'We made choices and it has consequences' —FEUQ president Martine Desjardins
Concordia and McGill are starting in early September, as usual, giving the 470 Concordia students and 300 McGill freshmen coming from CEGEPs that went on strike a choice: Complete their diploma while also going to university, or wait to start university in January.
"For about a month I would have to do CEGEP and university at the same time, and that would probably be way too much," said Vincent Bell, 21, a Collège Ahuntsic student who was accepted to Concordia.
"I'd only have my Friday to take courses at university, and that would only probably be one course, but then I wouldn't have any time to myself 'cause I'm working part time so I work weekends.
"It's not fun, that's for sure."
To be sure, some student associations at those universities are officially still on strike — nearly 13,000 largely graduate students at Concordia and 480 at McGill. But classes have gone mostly uninterrupted, so there's little risk the fall semester would otherwise be lost.
Bell said the English-language universities should allow students in his situation to start in October, like their French-language counterparts. McGill is allowing that for some science students, but not the rest of its incoming class.
Martine Desjardins, president of Quebec's university student federation FEUQ and a prominent face of the student strike, said taking a stand has its price.
"We made choices and it has consequences," she said. Still, Desjardins added that missing a semester can really hurt students and McGill and Concordia should do more to help.