Quebec students to vote on tuition compromise

The Quebec government and student leaders have reached a tentative deal to end a three-month class boycott.

Planned fee increases could be offset by cost-cutting

Student leaders exit closed-door talks with the Quebec government. CLASSE leader Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois and FEUQ leader Martine Desjardins. (CBC)

The Quebec government and student leaders have reached a tentative deal to end a three-month class boycott.

Now, it's up to individual students to vote. Student leaders have said they will not suggest their members sign on.

The "deal in principle" includes the government's seven-year plan to increase tuition by $1,625 for Quebec students, who pay the lowest post-secondary education tuition in the country.

But as a concession to satisfy student demands, they will have input on a committee that will look for savings in university budgets. Those savings could then be passed along to students as lower fees.

There could be other ways to cut costs, such as reducing exam fees and other charges to help offset the rising cost of basic tuition.

Students in Quebec have been holding protests and clashing with police for almost three months, denouncing the government's plans to raise tuition fees.

The deal was signed after Quebec Liberals ended a weekend meeting in Victoriaville, Que., where violent demonstrations sent nine people to hospital, including three police officers and one man who lost an eye and suffered life-threatening head wounds.

Premier Jean Charest spoke about the deal at the Quebec Liberal Party meeting Sunday afternoon. He said his government held consultations about tuition fees, and did everything it could to keep the lines of communications open with students.

Charest also said he was troubled by the violence in Victoriaville on Friday.

"I'm always troubled when I see people getting injured, when I see people taking violent action, whether they are protesters or police officers. Obviously no one can be happy about that sort of thing, particularly since we live in a democratic society and we are perfectly capable of having a debate without resorting to violence," said Charest.

Students could save semester

According to the head of the association of university rectors, students who have been refusing to attend class should still be able to save their semester, though they won't finish until the end of June.

Tuition will not be raised until the committee releases its report in December.