CSA and ISO Statement on Tuition Fee Increases

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On April 22nd, 2020, the University of Guelph’s Board of Governors passed a motion to increase tuition fees for undergraduate international students by 10 to 15 percent; while also increasing tuition fees for graduate international students by 3 to 37 percent depending on the program. This motion was unanimously passed without any discussion. The Central Student Association (CSA) and the International Student Organization (ISO) are deeply disappointed in the University’s decision to drastically increase international tuition fees, especially during a global pandemic. Due to a differential tuition fee system, international students already pay approximately 3 to 4 times the tuition fees of domestic students. International tuition fees are deregulated by the government, allowing universities to increase fees by however much they choose. Due to a lack of provincial and public investments in post-secondary education, institutions have become increasingly reliant on international tuition fees versus government grants as a source of revenue. This was exemplified in 2019 when the Ontario government implemented a 10 percent tuition reduction for domestic students without providing additional funding for institutions to make up for lost revenue. In an attempt to generate the lost revenue, many institutions chose to raise international tuition fees, leading to further financial precarity for international students. International students contribute over 20 billion dollars annually to the Canadian economy, pay taxes, make up a considerable portion of the Canadian workforce, and sustain over 170,000 jobs in Canada. Yet, they are left out when it comes to support from the government, while also being financially exploited by post-secondary institutions in Canada.

Currently, many international students are struggling to pay for basic needs including rent and groceries, and some are unable to return home due to the current crisis. These students also have very little access to financial supports from the university. In addition to this, many international students who remain in Guelph are facing increased mental health struggles.

Tuition fee increases are never acceptable, but they are even more burdensome for students during a global pandemic. Many international students have families that are also facing financial hardship. These fee increases are causing these students to reconsider continuing their studies at the University of Guelph. For many, their plans of employment have been halted as COVID-19 has brought the economy to a standstill. Furthermore, international students are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) yet are expected to pay increased tuition in the next few weeks. Many of these students are worried they cannot afford to graduate due to these increases.

CSA and ISO are calling on the University of Guelph community, including domestic students, to stand in solidarity with our international students and to demand the University of Guelph;

1. Reverse the 2020/2021 international tuition fee increases immediately

2. Freeze tuition fees for international students now

3. Provide more bursaries, grants and scholarships for international students

International students are a very important part of the University of Guelph community. They diversify our campus, provide new perspectives, and improve life. International students deserve to be treated fairly.

Posted on Wednesday, May 20th, 2020

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