Future teachers who begin their last full-time internships this week will have unexpected budget cuts this fall and will have to reluctantly take on debt, with the stipend they were counting on no longer being offered. Higher Education Minister Danielle McCann promises to find a solution.
“It was received with great horror and disappointment. Because of this, everyone will have to make sacrifices,” says Alexann Leblanc, a fourth-year graduate student in English as a second language at Laval University. This situation comes as schools have been struggling to hire teachers for some time, and Quebec is trying to overcome a shortage. With the school year starting next week, there would be a shortage of 700 to 1,400 teachers.
Typically, teaching students benefit for their “practice IV” from a stipend to support the persistence and success of the intern, in the amount of $3,900, paid in two installments: the first at the beginning of the session, the second in December. This financial assistance is invaluable and the students counted on it, as most of the 15-week teaching placement was unpaid.
However, in an email received last week by the student management officer at Laval University, Alexann learned that this scholarship will be replaced by the Perspective Québec scholarships. Starting this fall, this program aims to provide financial support during the CEGEP course to students in several fields where there is an obvious labor shortage, including education. For students, the scholarship amount is $2,500 per semester.
“The success of the internship is confirmed, the scholarship is paid [de 2500 $] can be expected at the end of January/beginning of February,” the email reads. Students will therefore not see the color of their money this fall.
“It was a big blow, because I chose the internship environment based on the fact that I would get paid this fall and be able to concentrate 100% on my studies,” underlines Alexann. She finally came to terms with applying for a line of credit on Monday. “It wasn’t an option I wanted to take because I wanted to graduate debt-free, which I did by this fall,” she says.
“We are all in this situation of uncertainty, and it has been like that all summer, adds Noémie Beaulieu. We didn’t know how much we would get, nor when. The student complains about the lack of clear communication and is also considering applying for a line of credit.
“We will get even more in debt than we are,” says Donna Cristina Obregon Diaz. They didn’t take into account the needs of the students in the internship, it’s really disappointing. »
McCann promises a solution
With the new Perspective Québec scholarships, a Bachelor of Education student will be able to receive a total of $20,000 over four years. However, students criticize the transition between the two programs and the inability to plan their finances for the coming months.
“It’s really bumpy, it’s not a delicate transition at all,” laments Alexann Leblanc.
“The Perspective scholarship is $2,500 per semester, so $5,000 for the last year of university,” adds Catherine Simard, also a fourth-year student. But for people like me who graduated in three and a half years, we are losers. »
“I would prefer to have a $3,900 scholarship,” adds Donna Cristina Obregon Diaz. I have to pay the rent and I won’t have any money. I’d rather be able to pay my bills now than wait until 2023.
Asked to respond, Higher Education Minister Danielle McCann noted that “it has always been very clear that the Perspective Québec scholarships will replace the persistence support scholarships because they are much more affordable annually.”
“Nevertheless, we will find a solution to keep the amount allocated to the former scholarship program for students graduating in the fall of 2022 who did not benefit from the Perspective Québec scholarship, in order to ensure a fair transition.” between the two programs,” she added in an emailed statement Have to.
“I want to reassure the students, we want the most favorable program possible for the targeted areas and we will make sure that no one is punished. »
Quebec Liberal Party (PLQ) education spokeswoman Marwah Rizqy, who like all other deputies was contacted by student Alexann Leblanc, sent an email Tuesday morning to Education Minister Jean-François Roberge and Minister Danielle McCann.
“It’s a game changer in the middle of the game,” launched the Liberal MP during an interview with Duty. My request is very clear: it is to immediately return the scholarship to which they are entitled and that there be a transitional measure for new enrollments. »