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Foreign students at West Virginia University blindsided by extra new fees

The university has over 2,000 international students who come from 114 countries. Source: Facebook

West Virginia University (WVU) is imposing an additional charge of US$300 on some of its international students on top of the premium price they already pay for tuition fees from the 2018 spring semester onwards.

According to WDTVthe university says the new fee is to compensate for the costs of issuing student visa documents, support services as well as complying with government regulations.

“The fee is kind of unfair, honestly. Knowing we’re paying a high amount of money already for school, almost US$30,000 a year, and now they want to impose US$300 more for international students,” Sebastin Duque said.

“I think it’s a little bit unfair because we’re not only bringing diversity to the school, but we’re bringing profits.”

There are 2,262 students in WVU from 114 countries, as published on the university’s website. Its admission page lists out-of-state student tuition and fees at a ballpark figure of US$23,616 per year, while for in-state students, the cost is an estimated US$8,376 per year.

Almost all US universities and colleges require foreign students to pay out-of-state tuition.

After the WVU’s Board of Governors meeting late last month decided on it, students were informed that they would have to pay the fee for 2018 spring semester.

“This fee has been added to help offset the costs associated with meeting increasingly complex government regulations and reporting requirements, and to ensure the efficient issuance of student visa documentation,” said the WVU website.

Almost all US universities and colleges require foreign students to pay out-of-state tuition. Source: Facebook

“Additionally, the fee is used to provide ample support services for students, advising and to promote an inclusive and welcoming environment through the promotion of cultural understanding.”

Students complained WVU informed them too late, about two weeks after the board meeting on July 12. The late notice didn’t allow them enough time to plan their payments.

The university’s associate vice-president for International and Global Outreach David Stewart apologised for this delay in a Q&A session, according to The DA.

“Even though we couldn’t officially tell you about the fee until after the Board of Governor’s approval on June 29, we probably should have had a discussion with you earlier on, to let you know we are thinking of implementing this fee,” Stewart said.

Another student, Juan Perez, said he understood the reason behind the fee. Nonetheless, he added: “I don’t like it because it’s another US$300.”

In response to students’ concerns, WVU delayed the implementation of the new fee for its undergrads until the 2018 spring semester to give students “more time to plan for the increase in cost”, according to a statement published on its website.

International graduate students on assistantships will not be required to pay the fee as well, as the school will consider it as part of their stipend.

Whereas international graduate students without assistantships will not be required to pay the fee for the 2017-2018 academic year. WVU says it will hold further discussions on whether graduate students should be imposed this new fee.

The DA reports students and staff still disagreed with the fees despite these changes.

  • International students in US universities are charged a higher fee compared to their local peers, sometimes several times more, as these schools increasingly rely on this stream of revenue to compensate for cuts in state funding.

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