Earlier this month, The British Columbia Federation of Students (BCFS) released a research document outlining the obstacles facing international students in Canada.
For these students, being miles away from home is only one of the many issues they face. One of the main issues highlighted in the report was the lack of regulation around tuition fees.
Aran Armutlu, the chairperson of the BCFS, stated that “while [international students] are here, their tuition fees can increase at any time with no notice.”
As there are no regulations for tuition fee increases, some institutions increased fees by fifteen to twenty percent in spring 2018 alone.
BC charges the second-highest tuition fees for international students in Canada, averaging $23,000 annually. Consequently, an unexpected fee increase could prevent some students from planning their budgets for their time in the country, and even others from attending university in Canada at all.
“The unpredictable nature of international tuition fee increases could force international students to turn elsewhere to complete their studies,” Armutlu explains, “leaving institutions without enrolment and stripping millions from our economy in lost spending – affecting all of us in BC.”
BC hosts roughly one third of all International students studying in Canada. Subsequently, international students are an important component of BC’s economy, as they annually spend over $3.1 billion in the province. This creates more than 26,000 jobs and contributes in excess of $1.7 billion to BC’s GDP.
Given the impact of international students on the economy, Armutlu wants to “ensure [that] BC continues to be an attractive destination for international study.” Therefore, the research document concluded with two recommendations for Canadian institutions. Firstly, the regulation of fees to ensure the stability of tuition fees. Following this would be the establishment of an international education strategy to provide sufficient supports for international students.
With these recommendations, the BCFS hopes to create “fairness, consistency and predictability” for all international students in Canada.