Yesterday, SU President Marina Banister presented the SU’s stance on tuition to the Academic Planning Committee (APC). On the agenda for the meeting were initial approvals of the tuition and fee increases for the 2018/19 year before they are sent on in the governance process.
University Administrators are proposing a 3.14% increase in the international student tuition, an International - Internship/Work Placements fee of $500, five new or increases to course specific fees, and the removal of four course specific fees. Banister’s presentation focused on how all these cost increases, with the coming increases to rent and the mandatory meal plan, combined can dramatically impact the finances of students with a more profound impact on international students.
“Tuition for international students has not been frozen,” explained Banister. “Their tuition has increased by almost 8% since 2015/16 when the Government froze domestic tuition. This increase is almost double the inflation rate reported Statistics Canada.”
International students pay on average over three times the tuition rate of domestic students and do not have access to the the same or similar sources of funding, such as Alberta Student Financial Aid. Some students, such as Akrem Hamami a 4th year international student at the University of Alberta, have endured hunger, homelessness, and long work days to cover the costs of their $21,000 tuition bill.
Hamami had stated that it is very difficult for international student to plan ahead when large increases occur annually. Additionally, it is difficult to know where to turn to in a foreign country with a foreign culture. It is expected that an international student who started in 2015/16 will be paying 10 to 12% more in the final year of their undergrad.
“We are concerned that the University is leaning too hard on International students to fill their budget gaps,” added Banister. “International students are starting to feel taken advantage of. What will these students say when asked about their experience at the University?”
Some members of the Academic Planning Committee agreed there is a potential risk to the institutions reputation; however, the international tuition increase was passed with a close vote of seven to six.
“I think the tight vote indicates that other members of the university community are becoming aware of the issues international students experience,” concluded Banister. “We hope the Board of Governors will seriously consider the impacts this increase has on students before they make the final decision.”