Students Urge Concordia to End International Tuition Hikes

Students Protest Outside Board of Governors Meeting

  • A dozen students gathered in front of the GM building during Wednesday’s Board of Governors meeting to protest international tuition hikes. Photo Miriam Lafontaine

As the mass deregulation of international tuition was being discussed in Wednesday’s Board of Governors meeting, a dozen students gathered outside the GM Building, urging Concordia not to use this as an opportunity to continue increasing international tuition.

Mass deregulation of international tuition will come into effect in the fall of 2019–meaning Quebec universities will no longer have any cap on how much they can charge international students.

“We’re losing millions of dollars of funding from the government of Quebec,” said President Alan Shepard during the meeting. “We have a responsibility to [increase international tuition] actually.”

With that, he said tuition hikes will be inevitable.

“We know that that’s bullshit,” said John Hutton, the Concordia Student Union’s finance coordinator, at the protest.

“Even when they try to reduce students to customers, to clients, to numbers, to cash cows to be squeezed for as much money as possible, even that narrow logic fails to justify these fee hikes.”

The deregulation stands to impact the price of education for the majority of international students across the province, with exception to PhD students and those taking thesis-based master’s programs.

With a mass deregulation of international student tuition on the horizon, tuition prices could be on the rise for international students with the exception of PhD students and students in thesis-based master’s programs. Photo Miriam Lafontaine

CSU General Coordinator Sophie Hough-Martin spent the meeting urging the board to put a freeze on international tuition rates. About 2,600 Concordia students have signed a petition in support.

“The Hall Building has Article 26 of the [United Nations’] Declaration of Human Rights on its windows, which promotes ‘Higher education that’s equally accessible to all on the basis of merit,’” said Hough-Martin.

“It’s students’ belief that deregulation of international tuition will make that impossible.”

Undergraduate Representative Eunbyul Park also urged the university to take a public stance against the deregulation of international tuition.

“From the bottom of my heart I support you,” said Gina Cody, an external member of the board and president of the Gina Cody Foundation.

“But when it comes to action, unfortunately sometimes your feelings have to be suppressed, and you may have to vote on something even though you full-heartedly are against it.”

For students taking on a full course load, Concordia’s international tuition currently averages about $19,802 a year.

In a 2018 survey of just over 14,000 international students across Canada, 79 per cent reported feeling either “somewhat concerned” or “very concerned” about their capacity to cover the cost of housing.

Recently, tuition increases were imposed on international students in the Goodman Institute of Investment Management. While international students there have been paying $18,000 a year, that tution will jump to $29,000 a year by fall 2021.

“They are often facing financial precarity that affects their ability not only to pay their tuition, but to afford to live in some of Canada’s most expensive cities,” Hough-Martin said.

“Without provincial funding, students are very concerned this is the first step towards the defunding of all post-secondary education, for all students, not just international students.”

With files from Erika Morris

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