The Link – Take a hike
International tuition jump sends foreign students packing
by Laura Beeston | 12 April 2010
Last semester, when Elijah Millerâ€”one of many international students hit with an unexpected and unannounced increase in tuition feesâ€”went into the Birks Student Centre to figure out why the cost of his education had doubled, an administrator asked him, â€śdidnâ€™t you read the article in The Link?â€ť
â€śIt was a complete shock. I had no idea,â€ť said Miller, â€śI shouldnâ€™t get news of my tuition increasing, after it happens, from the student press!â€ť
The first-year John Molson School of Business student is leaving Concordia, but doesnâ€™t feel good about it. Miller said he had to take out an extra $6,000 in loans he wasnâ€™t planning for, even after â€śbusting my ass all summer at a job I hated to afford to come here.
â€śIâ€™m really upset. It was a big risk for me to come [to Concordia] and it was a big step forward in my life,â€ť he said.
Though Miller said he understands his international tuition is higher since he doesnâ€™t pay taxes, he thinks â€śthe fact that they sprung it on us like that is really unfair.â€ť
Last May, Concordiaâ€™s Board of Governors increased the international student fees, stating that reasonable efforts would be taken to inform the students affected by the hikes.
When asked if sufficient communication with international students occurred after the tuition hikes, the administration said they â€śused the standard procedures.â€ť
â€śIn retrospect, we could have done more and we intend to,â€ť said Chris Mota, director of Concordiaâ€™s media relations. â€ś[But] ultimately, it is the studentâ€™s responsibility to check the tuition and fees website, because tuition can change literally overnight.â€ť
Mota added that, traditionally, tuition fees donâ€™t really play a role in whether a student will goâ€”or stayâ€”in school or not.
â€śAnd even with tuition rising over the years, weâ€™re booming,â€ť said Mota. â€śStudents are still coming [to Concordia]. In fact, the provinces with the highest tuition, [have] the highest attendance. [...]
According to Free Education Montreal, a student-run collective founded at Concordia to oppose tuition increases, many international students were in total shock when they looked at their financial records.
â€śIf you can imagine yourself studying in Tehran or Mumbai or Shanghai, and you had this happen to you, what would you do?â€ť asked Robert Sonin, a member of Free Education Montreal. â€śYou could phone home for money [but] what if your family already spent all their savings to send you here? You could appeal to the university, but theyâ€™re offering little help. What is there to do but live on a fraction of what you budgeted, or just quit and go home? To do this at all is wrong, but to spring it on people as a surprise is heartless.â€ť
Originally published in The Link: http://www.thelinknewspaper.ca/articles/2656.