Ontario to cash in on international students

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By Aleysha Haniff

Lise De Montbrun feels used by the government’s plan to turn international students like her into cash cows to support post-secondary education.

For years, students who come to Ontario to study pay thousands more than their Canadian counterparts.

According to Ontario’s throne speech, presented Mar. 8, the province’s Open Ontario plan will increase international enrollment by 50 per cent.

“It sucks that this is the reason why they’re coming, to subsidize… so I’m basically coming there to help you go to school,” said the fourth-year architecture student from Trinidad and Tobago.

“These dollars could be reinvested to improve and expand our schools and create more Ontario jobs,” reads the speech.

The government hopes to add 20,000 spaces to post-secondary education by next year, meaning Ryerson could have to support a wave of new admissions.

Now in her fourth year of architecture, de Montbrun said her tuition as an international student has jumped from about $13,000 or $14,000 to roughly $17,000.

And that doesn’t include almost $800 a year for private health insurance, made mandatory for all international students by the Council of Ontario Universities. De Montbrun doesn’t even use the provincial health system.

“If I didn’t have my parents’ support, I wouldn’t be able to come here,” she said.

Ryerson President Sheldon Levy said while the university could handle some of the extra costs, everything would depend on how many students the government wants Ryerson to accommodate.

“If the government were to say double them or something like that, I think the government would have to come in with some level of support,” Levy said.

To ensure that Canadian students won’t lose spaces at Ryerson, Levy also said they would have to bump overall enrollment.

Currently, the government provides no funding for international students, he said.

Diana Ning, co-ordinator of international student services, thinks the government should be pumping money into institutions instead of outside groups.

“We have tried out best to provide quality services,” Ning said.

She said they still need more funding, space and staff to do a better job.

Rosario Marchese, New Democrat MPP for Trinity-Spadina and education critic, dubbed the announcement a “terrible economic strategy.”

He predicted a higher faculty-to-students ratio to compensate for more admissions.

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