Bill 96 (Law 14): What does it mean for you?
How amendments to the Charter of the French Language impact English-language CEGEPs
Since 1977, under the Quebec Charter of the French Language (commonly known as Bill 101), only certain people holding a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) have the right to attend publicly funded English-language elementary schools or high schools in Quebec. Everyone else must attend French-language schools, with very few exceptions.
Under Law 14 adopted by Quebec’s National Assembly in May 2022, there are new amendments to the Charter that impact English-language CEGEPs.
Today, at the CEGEP level, all Quebecers regardless of their status can still attend English-language CEGEPs. However, whether they hold a COE can mean different admission, course, and graduation requirements.
Certificates of Eligibility
For more information on who has a Certificate of Eligibility (COE) or how to obtain one, visit the Ministry of Education’s website. You must apply for your COE before completing your high school education, otherwise the Ministry will not grant you a certificate even if you are qualified to receive it under the law.
Important: All English CEGEPs have been granted access to the provincial government’s records to see who has been granted a COE, so you do not need to submit a copy of your Certificate with your application. However, if you have not been granted your COE from the Ministry of Education by the application deadline, the College is obligated to treat your application as that of a non-certificate holder.
How English CEGEPs are impacted
Four aspects of the Law impact English CEGEPs and come into effect at different periods outlined below. They relate to:
- Exit tests of French language skills required to graduate for those without a COE
- The prioritization of certificate holders in admissions
- A requirement for all students to take three program courses in French OR three French as a second language courses (applies as of Fall 2024)
- A fixed cap on the total number of students who can be enrolled at English CEGEPs in the province
Who is impacted
- All students entering a new program
- Current students that transfer into a new program, except Springboard students who were registered in Fall 2022, Winter 2023 or Summer 2023 and are starting in Fall 2023.
Changes in effect as of the Fall 2023 semester
English Exit Exam versus French Exit Exam
As of Fall 2023, all CEGEP students in the province must pass either an English Exit Exam or a French Exit Exam to receive their Diploma of Collegial Studies (DCS). Under Law 14:
- Students with a COE attending an English CEGEP will need to pass the English Exit Test to graduate (no change)
- Students without a COE attending an English CEGEP will now need to pass the French Exit Exam, whereas before they wrote the English Exit Exam. The course content of our programs has been adjusted so that students who must write the French Exit Exam can develop their French skills to an appropriate level.
Fixed Cap on Enrollment
- The law sets limits on the total number of students English-language CEGEPs can enroll. In concrete terms, at Dawson College, this means we can enroll a maximum of 7,915 full time students, which is similar to our student population in recent years.
Changes in effect as of the Winter 2024 semester
As of Winter 2024, for programs in which the number of applications for admission is higher than the number of spaces available, priority will be given to certificate holders as follows:
- For first choice program applications, priority will be given to certificate holders based on college-determined standards that will vary depending on the program. These standards might consist of, for example, a certain overall average and/or score on audition, interview, drawing test, portfolio, etc. As these standards may vary from one year to the next, they will be made public at the start of the recruitment period. In all programs, there will still be space to admit those without a COE.
- For the Fall semester, for second choice program applications, admission priority will be given to certificate holders who meet the minimum requirements. This may result in admission to a different program or to a Springboard pathway.
- For programs leading to an Attestation of College Studies (ACS), admissions priority will be given to certificate holders based on program-specific admission requirements.
- Priority of admission should not be interpreted as a guaranteed admission into an applicant’s first choice program/CEGEP and all applicants must meet the minimum admission requirements.
- Dawson will collaborate with other English-language CEGEPs to ensure all qualified on-time applicants who are certificate holders are admitted to an English-language CEGEP for the semester to which they applied.
- Based on the number of applications we historically receive from certificate holders we do not expect the current ratio of certificate holders versus non-certificate holders in our student population to alter dramatically.
Changes in effect as of the Fall 2024 semester
Courses in French
Up until Fall 2024, all students have and will complete their courses in English apart from second language courses. However, as of Fall 2024:
- Students with a COE will have to take three program courses in French OR three additional French language courses to improve their French language skills, depending on their level of ability.
- Students without a COE will have to take three of their program courses in French.
For more detailed information on French courses visit our French department webpage.
Dawson already has many supports in place to practice and improve French language skills, including CLÉO (Centre de langue écrite et orale), a free French tutoring service offered to all Dawson College students, as well as credit and non-credit French language courses offered in Continuing Education. The College is strengthening support due to the law changes.