MONTREAL — After two weeks of relative calm, tens of thousands of students were back on the streets of Quebec Friday to protest a hike in tuition fees in the eastern French-speaking Canadian province.

A demonstration in Montreal drew up to 15,000 people, while another 5,000 protested in Quebec City, according to police and AFP estimates.

The row over the rising costs of university fees is now in its fifth month. Students are also protesting a law which has suspended classes until they resume in mid-August and limits the right to demonstrate.

"I have been here since the start of the movement in the spring," said demonstrator Nathalie Prud'Homme, 43, a journalism and literature professor at a college in northern Montreal.

"We know that just by increasing the government budget by 4 percent we could have had free schooling until the end of university, so it is society's choice whether we do it or not. And it is unfortunate when we see all the corruption in the Quebec government. We can't stand by and do nothing," she added.

The students are calling for the government to annul a decision to increase fees in the province by $1,708 (or 82 percent) over the next seven years, closer to the national average.

Most of the population -- about 56 percent according to a recent poll -- supports the government.

After three rounds of talks, the government left the negotiating table on May 31.

Since February, hundreds of protesters have been arrested and clashes have erupted sporadically as more than 165,000 students have refused to attend class and tens of thousands took part in once nightly demonstrations.

Photo AFP/File, Steeve Duguay