The Myths, Misconceptions and Fallacies of International Student Fees

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Canada enjoy many things this country has to offer: a cosmopolitan society, a stable political climate,eco friendly environments and a welcoming populus. Not particularly favourable for most international students? The weather and our tuition fees. Being an international student myself I have experienced and witnessed many misconceptions surrounding international student expenses and overall misunderstandings.

This week’s feature seeks to shed light on these very myths and fallacies that surround the issue of international student fees.

How much are international student fees?

Disclaimer: Tuition fees are approved by the Brock University Board of Trustees, in accordance with the tuition policy set by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (formerly the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities). This information is provided from the registrar’s website is for illustrative purposes for typical situations. However, the actual fees assessed may vary from these schedules. Tuition flat fee (4.0+ credits or attempts) for Arts or Science programs (at Brock University) is $23,861.40. Also including, ancillary fees (i.e., U-Pass, Univeristy Health Insurance Plan), which are compulsory, add up to $448.95 plus the Province of Ontario International Recovery Fee which is $750. These fees are nearly four times what domestic students are charged for tuition.

Why are the fees exorbitant?

In short, there is little to no regulation by the government for international student fees. However, there are regulations in place for domestic student fees. We have to question why the same consideration is not paid to the international students that come to this country in pursuit of furthering their education. The root cause lies with government underfunding for these students. In the 1970s, international students did not have different tuition fees from domestic students. However, government negotiations in 1976  lead to an increase in these fees, in order to expand revenue at post secondary institutions.

Why do international students pursue an education abroad?

Simple: It’s  an investment into their future. Coming to university in Canada provided networking opportunities, high standards of education, employment rates and the promise of securing stability for a prosperous future. Anna Hudlin, a fourth year BBA student from Trinidad and Tobago explained, “I chose to pursue an education abroad to make my tertiary (post secondary) level experience as international as possible.  For me, that meant studying outside my home country and travelling for academic and professional development opportunities. I also wanted to live and learn about other cultures as I believe this broadens one’s perspective.  Brock had a great scholarship that could help me achieve this dream.  With the added bonus of my ideal undergraduate degree, cooperative education and study abroad programs, Brock became my number one choice.”

In an 2013 article MasterStudies.CA highlighted strategies implemented by the Canadian government to recruit and retain international students in Canada, as their scholarship would be a vital component to enriching Canadian economy and society. Canada’s International Education Strategy recently announced its goal to double the number of full-time international students to 450,000 by 2022.The Canadian Council of Ministers of Education prioritizes attracting international students in all education sectors through a number of strategies. The plan is not only focused on recruiting, but also on retaining after graduation by offering more opportunities for Canadian international students to work abroad while studying and remain in the country as permanent residents afterward.

What support is offered by International Services to international students?

Brock International Services offers much more than just study abroad and exchange options. They are a faculty committed to serving the international student populus optimally. Michael  Morrison, Marketing and Communications Officer for Brock International Services, gave insight as to the initiatives and resources available for your perusal.

Brock International offers a number of programs to support International students throughout their studies at Brock. The following are some of the key support programs offered to international students

  1. Pre-Arrival Webinars – Offered to students who are arriving to Brock in the coming months. The webinars give incoming students with advice on travel documents (study permit, Temporary Resident Visa), setting up health insurance and tips on planning their move.
  2. International Student Orientation Day – An orientation session specifically for international students to help them transition smoothly into Brock University.
  3. Brock Guide Mentorship Program — Connecting incoming international students with upper year Brock students in an informal peer-to-peer mentorship program. It’s an opportunity for new students to make friends before arriving on campus and gain an insider perspective into life at Brock as well as the wider St. Catharines community.
  4. Certificate for Success — This program offers international students a chance to prepare for success in Canada both academically and professionally. The program is designed to address common issues international students may encounter when they first study or work in Canada, and offers resources for study and career development.
  5. English Conversation Partners – This program provides students who have English as an additional language with opportunities to build confidence and to practice and improve their English conversation skills by partnering them with volunteers who have English as their primary language.
  6. Workshops for International Students – Workshops offered by Brock International provide international students an opportunity to acquire new academic and language skills, in addition to fostering the application and improvement of their existing skills and knowledge.
  7. Brock International staff offer personalized support to students with immigration advising needs, housing assistance, cross-cultural questions, health and wellness support, engaging with the campus and a sense of belonging to the local community — all to ensure excellence and success among international students in their life at Brock and in Canada.

Are there any scholarships/awards/ bursaries international students have access too?

  1. Brock University has committed over $4,000,000 to the awards programs for 2017-18. International students pursuing undergraduate studies at Brock are eligible to receive awards and are subject to international tuition rates.
  2. International applicants to Brock are automatically considered for Brock Scholars Awards (if they are entering their first undergraduate program with no previous post-secondary experience).
  3. International students are also eligible to apply for International student awards via OneApp.

Homesickness, stress and emotional distress are significant with international students (as well as domestic)

What mental health resources are available to students?

  1. Mental health resources are available through the University Health Insurance Plan (UHIP) and the Extended Health and Dental Plan administered by the Brock University Students’ Union (BUSU) for undergraduates and the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) for graduate students.
  2. Students also have access to the Student Wellness and Accessibility Centre that provides access to student accessibility services, personal counselling services and student health services.

How does (international services) seek to build a sense of community among international students?

  1. We believe in creating a culture where students can meet and build connections as part of their Brock experience. Brock International Services hosts several events throughout the year to bring international students together to share in their experience of life on campus and away from home. From holiday parties to trivia nights, the International Centre has become a home away from home for international students during their studies at Brock.

These initiatives can be overlooked. It is important to be aware of the services available to ensure a smooth transition into the Brock Community. Language barriers, cultural differences and homesickness are hurdles international and exchange students tackle while acclimatizing to life in Canada. Enlisting the use of these resources can only serve to enhance your university experience for the better.

Has anything been done to reduce fees ?

The Canadian Federation of Students at their 35th Annual General Meeting in 2016 contested the increase of fees and proposed to eliminate fees for both domestic and international students. The agenda of the meeting sought to highlight the concerns of international students.The Canadian Federation of Students also functions to seek the best interest of both domestic and international students. The CFS agree that, international students enrich Canadian academic and social life in innumerable ways. Differential tuition fees are a threat to the intellectual, cultural, and social benefits that a diverse international student population adds to Canadian campuses. Furthermore, there have been petitions and other initiatives undertaken by international students across universities in Ontario to reduce the expenses imposed by tuition and ancillary fees, but to no avail.

 

International students have embarked on a journey away from the comfort of of the familiar of their home countries. This journey can often be taken for granted by their peers and colleagues, the emotional, financial and social changes are significant but, truly worth it. Which I can truly attest to. Canada has shown promise for these students in any academic sphere to expand and explore their ambitions, talents and potential.

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