Tuition Hike

In response to Concordia University’s statements to the Concordian regarding the administration’s proposal to increase tuition for incoming international students in deregulated programs through cohort pricing (“Concordia responds to possible tuition hikes,” Tuesday November 18), as an elected representative of the Concordia Student Union I feel obligated to present clarifications of our own.

University spokesperson Chris Mota’s assertion that there would be student input regarding the proposal is very questionable. Yes, “all members of the board, student governors included, will vote on the proposal;” but of 25 members of the board, only two students are eligible to vote, and only one is an undergraduate. A single representative vote at the point of adoption is not the opportunity for proper undergraduate input.

The CSU, like the Concordian, has been told that the cohort pricing proposal is justified by feedback from surveys with prospective international students. We are still waiting, however, on any basic details regarding these surveys, including when and where they were conducted and what exactly were the questions asked. In any case, market surveys are not a substitute for consultation which those who represent the memberships that will be affected.

We are confused by President Alan Shepard’s statement that “historically, [Concordia has] been setting the tuition to be exactly identical to the tuition rise prescribed by the Quebec government for Quebec residents and the rest of canadian [sic] students, which is still regulated by the government,”

We do not know if he referring to one of two different rates of annual tuition increase: for example, in 2015 the increase was 1.5 per cent for Quebec residents, and 3.8 percent for Canadian students out-of-province.

Regardless, we read this statement as false, since Concordia has been setting the tuition increase rate for international students in deregulated programs the same as the rate for regulated programs, with the exception of major tuition hikes for some deregulated programs implemented in the 2008/09 and 2009/10 academic years. This is why international undergraduate students in JMSB currently pay an extra $186.26 per credit ($717.69 instead of $531.43), and undergraduate international ENCS students pay an extra $62.62 per credit ($656.21 instead of $593.59), compared to the regulated programs (refer to http://www.concordia.ca/admissions/tuition-fees/how-fees-are-billed/undergraduate/fees.html).

We agree with Dr. Shepard in that we “regret [this] being played out […] like we’re debating international tuition in the press,” since we at the CSU would prefer that conversations regarding decisions that impact members of our community be open, transparent, and bring representatives of affected stakeholders to the table. We invite direct conversation with the University administration in place of conversation through the proxy of the student press. However, it is better that these ‘debates’ happen at all than have no conversation prior to the Board of Governors’ adoption and its presentation as a fait accompli.

This past Wednesday we heard international students at our public Town Hall talk about their own experiences with financial precarity and disenfranchisement within the institution, and we suggest that Concordia listen to its students as well.

– Lucinda Marshall-Kiparissis, General Coordinator of the CSU

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