International students raise concerns about tuition hikes after cut to domestic student tuition

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By Sherina Harris

Following the news that domestic post-secondary tuition fees will be cut by 10 per cent, some international students are concerned their tuition fees will increase.

“International students are going to be the ones who get screwed over,” said a former member of the international student constituency (ISC) from the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS). The member requested to remain anonymous for their safety.

Currently, tuition fees for international students in Ontario are unregulated. International student tuition at Ryerson University can range from $25,926 to $29,219, according to Ryerson’s Office of the Registrar website. Domestic tuition fees range from $7,639 to $12,241.

“There’s this assumption that all international students are rich or they come from great backgrounds,” said the former member, adding that there are various reasons students choose to pursue post-secondary education in another country.

The former member said CFS Ontario will be re-launching a campaign called Fairness for International Students. The campaign calls for the elimination of differential fees, the reintegration of international students into the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) and better immigration policies for international students.

International students have had to sign up for private insurance instead of being covered by OHIP since 1994, prior to which they were covered by the province.

Photo: Sherina Harris

If international tuition fees are increased, students may choose to leave Ontario, said Nour Alideeb, chairperson of CFS-Ontario.

She added that if Premier Doug Ford wants to make Ontario open for business, he needs to consider how international students contribute to the economy.

At a rally against the government’s changes, a recent graduate of George Brown College said they would like to see a cap on international student fees, as well as “to have international student voices out there, especially because most of us don’t feel confident enough or safe enough to speak up, because we are here on a temporary permit.”

“If we speak up that permit gets [put] in jeopardy,” they said.

Five per cent of Ryerson’s operating budget will be cut due to the government’s framework for domestic tuition fees, according to president Mohamed Lachemi.

In the 2017-18 year, Ryerson had 1,588 international undergraduate students, according to the University Planning Office. Lachemi noted that other institutions have higher amounts of international students.

“It’s not fair to decide [to raise international tuition fees] because when they came here, they came with the idea that this is the type of tuition fee they’re paying.”

Ryerson’s International Student Services declined to comment on the issue, but said they offer awards and emergency bursaries for students.  

Domestic students have a responsibility to talk about the impact of the tuition cut on international students, said the former ISC member. “At the end of the day, we’re all being screwed over.”


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