The policy, which would potentially limit tuition increases for international students, has proved to be a point of contention for CSU members
Annalisse Crosswell, Associate News Editor
A policy regarding limiting tuition increases for international students was proposed at a Capilano Students’ Union (CSU) board meeting Feb. 15 by Joshua Millard, vice-president academic. However, no official decision was reached because of time constraints and the belief held by some CSU board members that the issue was not worth discussing in-depth yet. Originally, the policy was for a tuition freeze on already high tuition costs, with a second proposition that increases in tuition should match the dollar-for-dollar amount that domestic students see. It was decided by the CSU board that a freeze would be unattainable because it would not account for inflation and the policy now seeks to create a dollar-for-dollar match.
Legally, domestic tuition can only be raised two per cent annually. However, when applied to international student tuition, this two per cent increase does much more than account for inflation and instead means that tuition may change by hundreds of dollars over the course of a four-year degree. “Matching dollar-for-dollar the increases of domestic students to international students is a no brainer,” said Millard.
The issue was a clear point of contention between members of the CSU’s board during the meeting. Millard believes this comes from a lack of understanding, and from the perspective that education for international students is a privilege. While he agrees, Millard also sees issues with this reasoning. “I think that it’s a pretty crazy jump to think that international student tuition should go up $400 to $500 dollars every year because international students are experiencing our education [as] just a privilege,” he said.
He noted that there is an argument to be made against the case of international students’ tuition because they do not pay taxes. However, he argues that many Canadian students do not pay taxes during their post-secondary years because of their low income. He also believes that tuition increases at the same two per cent rate as domestic students go well beyond accounting for this issue.
“The biggest argument I can make to the people that are on the fence [is that] there’s two separate issues here…there’s the tuition level – the tuition cost – and then there’s tuition increase,” said Millard. “Anything further, any increases that are beyond inflation, all you’re basically saying is that anything beyond that is because you want to draw more money out of the international student population.”
Millard, who has led the development of this new policy, said that it is important to communicate the CSU’s position on issues like this one to the University. “We should’ve made this stance years ago,” he said. The policy, and Millard’s efforts to develop it, has received little backing from domestic students within the CSU, but Harsha Sharma, the CSU’s international students liaison, and Yats Palat, vice-president student life, who is also an international student have helped Millard develop the policy.
If adopted, the new policy would not directly impact students. It would be up to the University’s Board of Governors to make that decision, but it’s certainly a step forward for international students. Throughout the process, Millard has had conversations with CapU and they are aware of his work, but he can’t speak to how administration may act.
The policy also includes a largely uncontended point that there needs to be more support for international students beyond financial issues. Conversation with international students, the Centre for International Experience (CIE) and the University would be held to decide what support needs to be given.
The issue will be raised again at the next board meeting on March 1, and Millard hopes to bring in international students to get CSU board members who are against the policy to empathize with their cause. He is encouraging students who would like to speak to the issue to attend the next board meeting and speak to their experiences.