February 21, 2012 - 11:28 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - About 36,000 post-secondary students in Quebec are expected to desert their classrooms Tuesday amid strikes over tuition hikes, AP reports.
The strikes have been triggered by votes at universities and colleges, with students at some institutions choosing to use the tactic to apply pressure against the Charest government.
While less than 10 per cent of the province's students have chosen to participate, the figure has grown considerably in recent days.
Premier Jean Charest showed no sign of budging.
He called his government's policy "fair" and well-thought-out, following consultations held over a number of years. Charest added that bursaries and loans would increase in order to guarantee student access, as part of a broader series of measures to increase funding for Quebec universities.
"For example, every student who has a bursary will see their bursary increase with an equivalent amount of money of the increase in tuition fees," the premier told reporters Monday.
Students are upset that the government will nearly double tuition - to $3,800 from the current $2,200 - over five years. They say education is a fundamental right and the tuition increase will discourage some people from continuing their studies.
But the government notes that Quebec tuition is so low that, even with the increase, it will still be the lowest in Canada.
The anti-government campaign has become more aggressive in recent days.
A Montreal police spokesman says 37 people arrested last week, after they occupied a downtown college, are due to return to court.