International Students Petition Against Tuition Fee Hikes at Canadian Universities

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, many higher education institutions in Canada have decide to increase international tuition fees by almost 40% for particular courses. The aim is for institutions to use this increase towards meeting the cost of educating students and offering support services.

Although not all institutions across Canada have increased their fees, the ones that did, have caused ‘turmoil’ among international students. The universities who have increased their fees, want to offer more scholarship options and provide more support initiatives for students. This, however, was not welcomed as greatly as they might have thought by intl students.

Numerous initiatives, led by international students have called against the increase in tuition fees and lobbied towards reduced or frozen fees instead. Many students have expressed their dissatisfaction with online classes and having to pay full-fees previously, but the increase is simply the ‘cherry on top’.

The international student organisation of the University of Guelph in Ontario has created a petition against fee increases which go up by 5-10% for undergraduate student courses to 3-37% for graduate courses. And this is not the only university to report tuition fee hikes.

“Increasing tuition at this point would result in many students like myself having to quit their studies and goals, unable to afford academic and living costs,” writes Giovanna Percel, who started the petition. 

“Considering that the majority of international students come from developing or undeveloped countries, many already face financial challenges as the economies of those countries are not strong or stable – imagine during a world pandemic,” she continues.

The Central Student Association and International Student Organization have urged the University of Guelph’s community to ‘stand in solidarity’ with intl students. They are demanding the university to reverse the 2020/2021 international tuition fee increases, freeze tuition fees for international students, as well as provide more scholarships, grants, and bursaries.

In July, many other Canadian universities were reported to have an increase in tuition fees, including Dalhousie and Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, N.S., by 3%, the University of New Brunswick by 2%, the University of Calgary by 7% for new arrivals, McGill University in Quebec by 3.1%, as well as the University of Guelph, and the University of Calgary among others.

Another student at Kings University College at Western University, Kanvi Gupta, also created a petition against the hikes in tuition fees. At the time of writing, a total of 2,670 students have already signed the petition, affirming their dissatisfaction with the decision of their university. 

“At a moment where everything is uncertain and no one knows how long will it take it to be normal again, Western University decided to increase the fee for all international students, which not only has affected students mentally but financially as well,” Gupta said. 

In its tuition fee increase announcement, McGill University admitted that they are “committed to allocating 30% of the net revenue derived from tuition increases to student aid.” 

“Increases are based, in part, on comparisons with other universities of similar size, mission, and caliber to McGill, and, in part, on the annual increase in the cost of delivering high-quality programs.,” the McGill university announcement wrote.

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