U of R students rally to ‘freeze fees’ on international tuition
University of Regina students are calling on the school and the provincial government to “freeze fees” on international student tuition.
Harshkumar Patel, with the University of Regina Students’ Union, moved from India to Regina in 2019 to attend university. He said that at first his tuition was $18,000.
“Since then, fees have gone up 25% in just two years,” Patel said.
According to the University of Regina Students’ Union, international undergraduate students pay nearly $21,000 to $22,000 in tuition, while Canadian students pay just over $7,000.
Tuition fees for Canadian students compared to those abroad. (CTVNewsRegina)
Patel said those costs did not include rent, food or other bills.
He said being an international student also means he can’t find a full-time job to help pay his bills.
“With the Canadian government, we are only allowed to work 20 hours (per week) and nothing more. If we work more than that, we get sent back to our country,” Patel said. “It makes things very difficult.”
He said the only way to pay for his education and his bills was to take out a student loan and work as much as he could legally.
The University of Regina Faculty Association participated in the rally on Wednesday, saying it is a shame there is such a stark difference between international and domestic students.
“We truly understand that public education is the foundation of democratic societies. We are in this fight with you. We want our universities to be accessible, ideally free for all,” said Emily Eaton of the faculty association.
In a statement to CTV News, the University of Regina said it appreciates the support and commitment to making the school more accessible.
“While we may not be able financially to respond in a way that addresses their specific concerns in this case, we recognize that they are voicing the experiences of many international students and we will do our best to mitigate, given our financial capability,” the university mentioned.
The statement goes on to say that the university is currently working on its 2022-23 budget, which will show tuition, adding that the school projects that the 2021-22 fiscal year will see a shortfall of $16 million. He adds that provincial government funding is also frozen at current levels. This means that “the university is considering all opportunities to generate revenue and reduce costs, without unnecessarily affecting the student experience, in order to develop a balanced budget for 2022-2023.
The provincial government has declared tuition fees for international students in Saskatchewan to be the lowest in the country. A statement to CTV News said.
“In 2021-22, international students in Saskatchewan paid an average of $22,197 in tuition fees, compared to a national average of $33,623,” the province said.
He added that the province has provided $735.1 million to support post-secondary education in the province, $102.5 million in direct student support through tax credits, grants and scholarships.
Patel said Wednesday’s rally and march through the University is the first step towards change, adding that the protest against the “fee freeze” will continue, with the student union presenting a petition at the spring session of the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan.