More than 10,000 college students marched in Montreal on Thursday, to vent outrage over a 75 percent tuition hike that the government plans to usher in over a five-year period in French-speaking Quebec.

"Education is not for sale," read one of the placards hoisted by the young demonstrators.

"Education is a right, not a luxury," read another sign, carried by students in a procession that stretched back for miles (kilometers).

In Canada, regional officials set the rules governing the cost of tuition at state-run colleges and universities, which vary greatly from province to province.

In cash-strapped Quebec, Prime Minister Jean Charest has said he will raise tuition and fees starting in January by $325 annually, amounting to a $1,625 hike over the next half-decade. Students currently pay around $2,200 annually.

University groups and education advocates fear the increase will stop the poorest students gaining access to higher education.