Universities in British Columbia are responding to the rising number of international students – which now stands at more than 87,000 – by increasing the fees to meet this pressure.
International students already pay higher fees than domestic students in British Columbia. This is set to rise by 7.5 percent this September, followed by a further 6.98 percent increase in September 2019 for overseas students at institutions such as Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU).
“The surge in demand has created additional cost pressures for KPU, such as the need to hire additional permanent employees to educate and support our international students,” a spokesperson for the university told The Globe and Mail.
“While we welcome the international recognition of our programs, we need to ensure we can sustain the engaging and high-quality experience we currently offer our international students.”
Changes to the fees are creating additional financial stress for international students as it is unclear how much they will need to pay to complete their studies.
Students in British Columbia pay for their programme per credit they take, so they have the option to pay more to finish their course or forgo the credits necessary.
Gurpreet Sabharwal, an international student who is also the Surrey campus representative for the Kwantlen Student Association, told The Globe and Mail: “I think the university has this presumption that every international student is rich, but that’s not the case.
“Our tuition is already so high compared to domestic students. We are only allowed to work 20 hours. We hardly manage to pay our bills here, as you know the cost of living in B.C. is so high, especially in the Vancouver area.”
The University of Victoria is also following suit, with fees for current international students rising by 4 percent this year.
Overseas students enrolling at the university will look at a 20 percent increase from the previous year’s tuition fees.
This has raised fears some international students will be priced out of completing their degree and have to drop out.
Dheeraj Alamchandani, director of international student relations of University of Victoria Students’ Society, said: “I was very disheartened when I heard that. I was very disappointed,” according to The Global and Mail.
“Those who have considered UVic as a viable and accessible resource for getting education might have to back out because of the financial reasons. That makes global education a lot less accessible for everyone.”
Simka Marshall, British Columbia Federation of Students member, expressed concerns that universities are pushing prices up due to high demand and a lack of government regulation.
“Without any form of regulation, institutions are able to increase tuition fees by whatever amount they want and with very little warning,” Marshall told The Globe and Mail.
“This can make it very challenging for an international student to budget for a four-year degree and could result in a student having to drop out and study in another place because of unaffordability.”