International students at Canada university rail against 'unfair' fee hike
UVic's international students had earlier staged a protest outside the university board's meeting room, holding signs and later sitting in during the vote. Source: University of Victoria Students' Society Facebook page

The University of Victoria (UVic) has increased its fees for international students by four percent, to the dismay of its student cohort, The Times Colonist reports.

Local students, on the other hand, will only face a fee hike of only two percent.

Alysha Flipse, the institute’s student society director of outreach and university relations, said she was disappointed by the decision.

“I think a lot of students were quite upset … that we were there and we put in all this effort to tell the university we were really unhappy with this and we weren’t heard,” Flipse said.

The students had earlier staged a protest outside the university board’s meeting room, holding signs and later sitting in during the vote, but to no avail.

The fee hike comes in the wake of reports that more foreigners are planning to study in Canada, after being put off by the allegedly populist and unfriendly policies on immigration at traditional study destination favourites United Kingdom and United States.

International students make up 3,775 of UVic’s more than 20,000 students. The fees for foreign students – at CAD17,000 (US$12,750) per term – are said to be among the third lowest nationally. Local students pay CAD5,400 (US$4,047) per term.

UVic’s vice-president for finance and operations Gayle Gorrill said the increase for international students reflected the true rate of inflation at universities.

Tuition fees for domestic students cannot be raised by more than two percent, as mandated by the provincial government, according to Gorrill. Their parents also pay taxes, which goes to subsidise their fees at the university.

“So, accordingly, we are looking at increasing tuition for international students at approximately what our real rates of inflation are,” Gorrill said.

But students disagree with this reasoning. By paying three times the amount compared to locals, they say this new fee hike is unfair.

Chinese student Tianyang Zhang, elected representative for international students on the UVic students’ society, previously said it was unfair for the university to raise tuition for international students by more than double the increase proposed for domestic students.

“We pay more than three times the tuition,” said Zhang, an economics student nearing the completion of a bachelor’s degree. “It’s going to be a ton of money for us.”

Flipse believes the better way is through lobbying the government for more funding instead of hiking fees, which could drive a wedge within the student community.

“It just seems like a better attitude would be working together – students and the university – to lobby government for more funding,” Flipse said.

“That works in everybody’s favour.”

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