Concordia’s Board of Governors has approved a tuition hike for international students.
In a meeting on May 23, the board passed a motion to raise tuition for international students in the Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science and the John Molson School of Business by 3.28 per cent starting in the 2018-2019 academic year. This means tuition will rise from $737.07 to $761.25 per credit for international JMSB students and from $673.93 to $696.04 per credit for international ENCS students. These are the two faculties whose tuition is not yet regulated by the provincial government.
Concordia president Alan Shepard said this increase matches tuition hikes for non-international students, which were mandated by the Quebec government for the upcoming academic year. For 2018-2019, the provincial government ordered a 2.7 per cent tuition increase for Quebec residents, and a 3.28 per cent increase for students from elsewhere in Canada.
“It seems fair,” Shepard told The Concordian. “It seems equitable to us to charge international students the same as other people are being charged.”
International students in Fine Arts and Arts and Science, whose tuition is still regulated by the government, will see their tuition rise by 2.7 per cent in the fall. The following year, tuition for these students will also be deregulated, leaving the power to implement further hikes in the hands of the university. However, international students who enrolled before the 2019-2020 year will not be affected by these changes.
In the fall of 2019, the provincial government will stop providing grants for international students in any faculty. “The government is going to remove from Concordia all of its support for teaching international students, space for them and services for them,” Shepard said. “That’s a big loss to Concordia.”
In Quebec, tuition fees are determined by each student’s residency status. In the fall of 2017, base tuition at Concordia was $79.70 per credit for Quebec residents, $246.76 per credit for Canadians from outside of Quebec, and at least $600 per credit for international students, depending on their faculty. French and Belgian students pay the same fees as Canadians from outside of Quebec, because of their countries’ cultural and historical ties to the province.
Leyla Sutherland, an undergraduate representative on the Board of Governors, contested the decision during the meeting, saying it adds to the barriers international students already face in Quebec. “It just looks like the university knows the one group of students that they can charge more,” she said.
Sutherland criticized the board for what she considered a lack of dialogue between the board and the student body. “It’s very concerning to me that students aren’t being approached about this, aren’t being spoken to, aren’t seeing how these increases are going to benefit them, […] improve their education or maintain the services they already have in place,” she said.
About a dozen students protested the hikes inside the GM building where the meeting was taking place.
President Shepard said modest tuition increases are always a possibility. “It’s rare to see zero increases [to tuition],” he said. “Our costs go up four per cent a year, let’s say, at the university. If our costs go up and the revenue stays flat, that’s a four per cent gap, and next year it’s an eight per cent gap, and so on.”
Graphic by Zeze Le Lin