UBC Okanagan international student Josh Dwamena. Photo: Barry Gerding/Black Press

UBC Okanagan international student Josh Dwamena. Photo: Barry Gerding/Black Press

International students hit hard by B.C. tuition fee hikes

Campaign seeks regulatory controls be imposed on post-secondary institutions

Josh Dwamena arrived in Canada from the U.K. in 2014 excited to begin his post-secondary education at UBC Okanagan.

Now in his fifth year looking to graduate with a business management degree, he describes his post-secondary experience as having both a bright and dark side.

He is glad for the education and life experiences that have come with his enrolment at UBCO, saying all the positive stereotypes about Canadians he was told by friends and family have proven accurate.

“This country has welcomed me with open arms. After four years of studying here, I find myself saying sorry way too often and buying (Tim Hortons) timbits for groups of people I barely know,” he laughed.

But he has faced difficulties on the financial side, as both a victim of economic difficulties back home that have affected his parents’ ability to pay for his education coupled with crippling tuition fee increases.

“When I started here in 2014, my tuition fees were $25,000 a year, and for an international student this year those fees are now $38,000,” Dwamena said.

While the province has imposed a two per cent cap on domestic tuition fee increases, no such regulation exists for international students, leaving them susceptible to annual fee increases well beyond that level.

Those shared financial setbacks for international students are the basis for a campaign launched by post-secondary student organizations across B.C. called “Fairness for International Students.”

The UBC Students’ Union has joined with other student groups at 12 post-secondary institutions across B.C. to align with the B.C. Federation of Students on this campaign, which was unveiled Wednesday at the UBCO campus. Together, they represent 9,100 students.

The campaign is seeking petition signatures for a request to impose regulations for international student tuition fee increases and a new international student education strategy that provides sufficient supports for international students.

“International students come to UBCO hoping to access one of the top 40 ranked universities for higher education in the world, and have the experience of a small campus,” said Amal Alhuwayshil, president of the UBCO Student Union and campaign coordinator for the BCFS.

“However, their tuition fees can unpredictably increase at any time as per the board of governors decision”

Alhuwayshil, an international student at UBCO from Saudi Arabia, said education is the third highest export in B.C. behind only agriculture and forestry.

She cited statistics from 2015 for B.C. that credited international student spending at $3.117 billion, creating 26,000 jobs, adding $1.77 billion to the provincial GDP and $176.4 million in B.C. income tax revenue.

But for all that economic benefit, and adding to the post-secondary education experience for domestic and non-domestic students alike, they are being financially targeted.

She said at UBCO alone, international student tuition fees have increased nine and eight per cent the last two years, and a further four per cent increase is on the table for this year.

“B.C. hosts one-third of all international students in Canada. If the financial hardship being imposed on them without any regulation continues, those students are going to look to other provinces to attend school, and that lost revenue will create hardship for our post-secondary institutions to make up that revenue,” Alhuwayshil said.

For Dwamena, those increased fees he left him facing the prospect of being unable to finish his education, something he has managed to avoid by reducing his semester course load to lower his fees and working as a bartender, although his ability to work is limited by his international student status.

“It feels like on one hand my enrolment allows a box to be ticked off for diversity and another ticked off for revenue which feels like a slap in the face,” said Dwamena.

“Many international students are already struggling to make ends meet. Some B.C. institutions have imposed 15 to 20 per cent tuition fee hikes. I feel that is unfair and unnecessary to raise tuition fees to that extent without providing more services.”

Dwamena said UBCO can justify the nine per cent increase because it is lower than what some other schools charge, but he challenges that fiscal rhetoric of relying on international students to make up budget revenue shortfalls.

“It is not the worst so that is OK? No. This is not an unacceptable reason to leave international students like myself unable to budget for our education in Canada.”



barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
Forty-one positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

Kitimat RCMP are requesting assistance locating 24-year-old Teah Wilken, who was last seen getting on a bus at City Centre Mall in Kitimat around 6:30 p.m. Monday (Nov. 23). Kitimat RCMP Facebook photo.
Kitimat RCMP requesting assistance locating missing woman

Wilken last seen getting on bus at City Centre Mall in Kitimat around 6:30 p.m. Monday (Nov. 23)

Black Press file photo
Moose hit on Hwy 37 S

The collision happened Saturday (Nov. 21) and three people were taken to hospital

<em>Pixabay</em>
All I want for Christmas is…food!

The Kitimat Northern Sentinel wants to publish your holiday recipes

Cases have gone up in Northern Health in the past week, as they have all over B.C. (K-J Millar/Black Press Media)
Northern Health reports new highest number of COVID-19 cases in one day

Nineteen cases were reported to Public Health last Tuesday (Nov. 17)

People wearing face masks to help curb the spread of COVID-19 cross a street in downtown Vancouver, on Sunday, November 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. reports 17 COVID deaths, 1,933 new cases as hospitalizations surge over the weekend

There are 277 people in hospital, of whom 59 are in ICU or critical care

Workers arrive at the Lynn Valley Care Centre seniors home, in North Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday, March 14, 2020. It was the site of Canada’s first COVID-19 outbreak in a long-term care facility. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Rapid tests ‘not a panacea’ for care homes, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

B.C. lacks capacity for daily tests of thousands of workers

(Delta Police Department photo)
Cannabis edibles found in Halloween bag lead B.C. police to illegal lab

Delta police arrested a man and a woman while executing a warrant at a residential property Nov. 20

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A woman being arrested at a Kelowna Value Village after refusing to wear a mask on Nov. 22.(@Jules50278750/Twitter)
VIDEO: Woman arrested for refusing to wear mask at Kelowna Value Village

RCMP claims the woman was uncooperative with officers, striking them a number of times and screaming

B.C. Liberal MLA Shirley Bond questions NDP government ministers in the B.C. legislature, Feb. 19, 2020. (Hansard TV)
Cabinet veteran Shirley Bond chosen interim leader of B.C. Liberals

28-member opposition prepares for December legislature session

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, November 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-19: What do rising positivity rates mean for B.C.? It’s not entirely clear

Coronavirus cases are on the rise but the province has not unveiled clear thresholds for further measures

A rider carves a path on Yanks Peak Saturday, Nov. 21. Two men from Prince George went missing on the mountain the next day. One of them, Colin Jalbert, made it back after digging out his sled from four feet under the snow. The other, Mike Harbak, is still missing. Local search and rescue teams went out looking Monday, Nov. 23. (Sam Fait Photo)
‘I could still be the one out there’: Snowmobiler rescued, 1 missing on northern B.C. mountain

As Quesnel search and rescue teams search for the remaining rider, Colin Jalbert is resting at home

More than 70 anglers participated in the bar-fishing demonstration fishery on Sept. 9, 2020 on the Fraser River near Chilliwack. DFO officers ticketed six people and seized four rods. A court date is set for Dec. 1, 2020. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Anglers ticketed in Fraser River demonstration fishery heading to court

Sportfishing groups started a GoFundMe with almost $20K so far for legal defence of six anglers

Most Read