The price of internationalization

ASUS Student Senator Rico Garcia, ArtSci ’13, says the 10 per cent international student tuition increases may affect future enrollment rates of international students at Queen’s.
ASUS Student Senator Rico Garcia, ArtSci ’13, says the 10 per cent international student tuition increases may affect future enrollment rates of international students at Queen’s.

Queen’s administration is under scrutiny by student representatives following a decision to raise international students’ tuition by 10 per cent. The decision was passed Dec. 4 at a Board of Trustees meeting and will come into effect for the next academic year.

Queen’s currently has the third highest international student tuition rate of all Ontario universities with international undergraduate students paying almost two and a half times domestic tuition rates at $17,030.

The 10 per cent increase will result in incoming undergraduate international students paying between an extra $1,873 and $2,312 in tuition in September depending on their program. International students from professional programs such as Policy Studies and AMS Student Trustee Morgan Campbell spoke against the fee increase at the Dec. 3 meeting.

“I didn’t support the fee increase …there is an increased cost of [recruiting and hosting] international students, but I don’t think that the costs of having international students at Queen’s are proportional to [the fee increases,]” Campbell, ArtSci ’11, said.

After gathering together provincial and university data and speaking with several international students, Campbell, ArtSci ’11, prepared a brief that she delivered to the members of the Board of Trustees along with her speech.

While some international students are more comfortable paying high tuition costs, Campbell said that it’s important not to generalize.

“The people we’re really targeting are the bottom five or ten per cent who might not be able to come to Queen’s otherwise … we’re definitely fighting for a smaller minority of students,” Campbell said. In her brief, Campbell noted that the two universities in Ontario that charge higher international tuition fees than Queen’s, the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo, have far greater international student enrollment, and greater appeal to international students based on their size and location.

She said that all three student trustees voted against the fee increase but most other members voted in its favour.

Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) Bob Silverman said the fee increase was proposed in order to alleviate financial strain on the University.

“Tuition is one of the two major sources of revenue for Queen’s. These funds, along with government grants allow us to run our programs. There is no government grant funding for international students,” Silverman told the Journal via email. “The University management and Board of Trustees must have a pragmatic approach to managing the complex affairs of the University.”

In January 2010, Principal Daniel Woolf listed internationalization as a priority in his Academic Plan ‘Where Next?’ Silverman said that while he understood the concern students had about tuition increases effecting enrollment, some of the information students based their arguments on was not fully correct.

“While it is idealistic to be concerned that increased tuition levels may impede enrolment of international students, there is no evidence to support that position,” Silverman told the Journal via email.

Silverman said he’s aware of some student dissatisfaction with the approval process but feels it’s unfounded.

“We had a town hall meeting prior to Senate and Board of Trustees at which interested students could express their opinion. All international students were contacted directly by email to advise them about the meeting,” Silverman told the Journal via email, adding that underfunding at the University will likely result in annual tuition increases for domestic and international students alike

Unlike with domestic tuition, there is no provincial regulation for international student tuition, so universities can decide on rates individually.

Campbell said Queen’s was the first Ontario University to adopt a standardized tuition increase framework.

The Predictable Tuition Framework, adopted by Queen’s in 2008, guarantees that Queen’s will only increase an international student’s tuition by a maximum of 10 per cent in their first year and then every year after that by a maximum of 5 per cent, Campbell said.

While these percentages are not drastically higher than domestic tuition increase rates, which allow for a maximum 8 per cent increase after a student’s first year and a maximum 4 per cent increase in subsequent years, Campbell said it’s important to remember these figures still correlate to a relatively high increase in international tuition.

Although unhappy with the Board’s decision, Campbell said she’s committed to helping increase support services for international students and she will continue to advocate for them at the next Board of Trustees meeting set to take place on Mar. 4 and 5.

“[We will] emphasize how much we need more targeted international student bursaries,” Campbell said, adding that it was decided at the last Board of Trustee’s meeting that both the Excellence and Principal’s admission scholarships will be opened up to international students, a decision Campbell said is a good step forward.

Student leaders including AMS President Safiah Chowdhury and Rector Nick Day spoke out against the proposed fee increase.

During her address, Chowdhury recounted her grandfather’s experience as an international student in England who was able to achieve high academic and professional attainment due to affordable international student tuition fees.

“Consider what types of students we want here at Queen’s. Is it simply the affluent or is it the best, brightest and those who will make a significant impact on the world and many lives, like my grandfather has,” Chowdhury, ArtSci ’10, said in her address.

ASUS Student Senator Rico Garcia, an international student from Mexico, attended the information session at the QUIC, but said that he was unsatisfied with the way Queen’s administration handled the matter.

“I was contacted only a few hours in advance of the meeting. There were only a few people there and it was simply an information session. My concern as a student senator was that there was a lack of student representation and no real student input,” Garcia, ArtSci ’13, said.

Wayne Myles, Director of the QUIC helped coordinate the Town Hall information session for international students that took place on Oct. 25. He said that students were in fact well informed of the meeting, though only 25 students were present.

“The announcement was sent out to …international students on our mailing list on the 19th and again on the day of the event … the message was also placed on our Facebook page on the night of the 19th,” Myles told the Journal via email.

Garcia said that during the meeting, he felt like the Board of Trustees wasn’t taking into account students.

“Bob Silverman said that the Board basically just ratifies what [is proposed.] He said that there was zero likelihood that they [would] turn something like this down,” Garcia said.

Although Garcia, who receives some financial assistance from the University, said that the tuition increases would not prevent him from returning to Queen’s next year, he believes that it will affect enrollment for many incoming students.

“When somebody [at the information session] asked why our fees were so much higher, [Bob Silverman] said it was because international students incur a higher cost to the university through services like the QUIC,” Garcia said “While this is partly true, everyone, including domestic students, has access to the QUIC.”

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