Tuition Raised for International Students

Students Protest Outside, Saying Hikes Are Exploitative

A group of about 40 students came to oppose the hikes. Many wore masks with the faces of the members of the Board of Governors, pretending that they weren’t being let into their own meeting. Photo Jon Milton

International undergraduate students in Engineering, Computer Science and the John Molson School of Business will see tuition hikes starting in the fall, after the proposal was passed today at Concordia’s Board of Governors.

The upcoming increases coincide with a recent announcement from the Quebec government that tuition will be deregulated across the board for all international students, with exception to PhD students and those taking thesis based masters programs. Once departments become deregulated, schools stop receiving funding for international students in those programs, meaning they have had to rely on their own means to fund those students.

“Plans [by the Quebec government] to deregulate international tuition sets the precedent that international students are constantly going to be the ones shouldering the largest amount, it’s just so concerning to students to see this happening,” said Leylah Sutherland, an undergraduate representative at the meeting.

Those changes will come into affect for the 2018-2019 academic year, for all new students.

“It just looks like the university knows the one group of students they can charge more,” Sutherland continued. “The fact that more programs are going to be deregulated leaves a lot of students feeling they’re just going to more exploited.”

Students hit by the increases will see an 3.28 per cent raise in tuition fees. For an international JMSB undergraduates taking a full course load of five classes per semester that equals a $725 increase for the year with tuition standing at about $24,627 per year.

President Alan Shepard said the increases come from recommendations issued by the Quebec government, that are in line for the increases per year for out of province students and international students from Belgium and France, who benefit from regulated tuition.

“As you know, as a university we continue to try to provide the highest quality education we can provide our students and every year the costs go up as we try to achieve that goal,” Shepard told the room.

In an interview with The Link after the board meeting Shepard said the school will continue to look at raising fees for other international programs when provincial legislation comes into affect.

Others argued the incremental increases could get out of hand if they were pushed for each year.

“This trend could and probably will lead to a disportionate burden on top of what is already being placed on international students,” said Robert Young, an undergraduate representative.

Protests Outside

While the meeting was underway, loud fiesta music blared in the GM building lobby as about 40 students protested against the tuition hikes.

This protester wore a mask of Alan Shepard. Photo Erika Morris

“We have reached out to president Alan Shepard and members of the Board of Governors and have been ignored,” said Sophie Hough-Martin, General Coordinator of the Concordia Student Union.

“The response we have received just goes to show that they are more interested in ensuring that tuition is used for university’s profits and not actually hearing the concerns of students.”

Many protesters were wearing masks with faces of board members pretending that they weren’t being let into their own meeting. Whenever board members would walk in to go to the meeting, protesters would call them imposters and asked them how they would vote.

“I wish people would not wear masks in our buildings, it scares other people,” Shepard told The Link. “I didn’t see them but I wish people wouldn’t have done that. People find it very threatening and dangerous”

Protesters tried to get into the elevator with board members to attend the meeting, but security pushed them away and some protesters were thrown to the ground.

The walls of the lobby were covered with post-its and balloons with anti-hike slogans written on them. While the meeting took place, protesters played limbo and had snacks. Others confronted the security guards on their treatment of protesters.

Hough-Martin said the CSU has a hard position on not financially segregating international students the way the administration is trying to do, and said students want to be invited into the discussion. Sutherland also complained at the Board of Governors meeting that he her requests to discuss the hikes with board members went ignored.

“Quebec is lucky for having the lowest tuition in Canada but international students should get the same privilege that we do,” said Emma Knowler, a student protesting.

“It’s important [to protest] because if they’re going to do this to international students who don’t have a voice it’s going to affect us in the future because our tuition will be hiked as well.”

Shepard said the school will try to make up for the hikes by increasing bursaries, internships and French courses for international students.