The campaign will include sign-up sessions and rallies throughout January and February   

Wen Zhai // Contributor

Capilano Students’ Union (CSU) Board of Directors approved the International Student Tuition campaign on Jan. 10, 2020. This campaign will push the University for a two per cent cap on international tuition year-on-year increase which will benefit around 2500 international students who are currently studying at CapU. 

Happy Singh, CSU Vice President External, initiated the campaign in September. Born in India, Singh joined CapU last January and was elected as the Vice President External in March. “I ran for this position because I wanted to make a change,” Singh told me over the phone. In August, he decided to campaign for the International Student Tuition Cap and formally started it in September. 

For the past five years, CapU has applied a two per cent annual increase on international student tuition fees—the same cap as required by BC’s Tuition Limit Policy for domestic students. This is positive news compared to other BC universities that have seen annual increases as drastic as 20 per cent. However, without a policy equivalent to the Tuition Limit Policy, the university can increase the international tuition fees, at any rate, any time. 

In the fall, Singh visited the parliament building in Victoria to talk to the assembly of the Alliance of BC Students (ABCS)—of which CSU is a member. Singh learned that the CSU had lobbied with the ABCS to the government before but had to wait until March 2020 for the result on whether the BC government would agree on a two per cent cap on international tuition annual increase. It was then that Singh decided to start his own campaign at the university level. By influencing CapU to implement a policy of a two per cent international student tuition cap, the campaign hopes to eliminate the uncertainty and make it easier and predictable for international students to budget their tuition. 

Before he brought the campaign proposal to the CSU Committee and the Board of Directors, Singh talked to nearly 70 international students and solicited their opinions on the tuition fee increase. With the proposal approved by the CSU Board, the campaign has been allocated $4,500 to proceed. Looking back on what has been the most difficult part of the campaign effort so far, Singh thought carefully and replied, “I think the most difficult part is to explain to international students and the board what this campaign is about.” 

As for the future campaign plan, Singh is aiming for at least 1250 signatures from international students — about 50 per cent of the total international student population. Fifty volunteers will be involved in this campaign and they will try to reach as many stakeholders as possible across various mediums — newspapers, social media, phone calls, etc. — along with volunteers around the campus to raise awareness and collect signatures. Students may expect to see banners, t-shirts, caps and stickers for the campaign around campus and during sign-up sessions. Coffee tables will be set up at bus stops, the CSU office (Maple 116) and the cafeteria, where students can have a coffee with the volunteers while getting to know more about this campaign. Volunteers will also collect signatures during a carnival organized by the school.  

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