Does Ontario use international students for financial gain?

In recent years, attracting international students to Canadian universities has become one of the primary goals of provincial governments. In 2010 Queen’s Park voiced their intention to increase the number of international students in Ontario by 50 per cent by the year 2015.

This year, the provincial government has reported 66,000 new international students in post-secondary institutions, exceeding their goal of 57,000.

Reza Moridi, Ontario&rsquo;s minister of training, colleges, and universities told the <em>Toronto Star </em>that one international student contributes $35,000 to the economy.

Unlike the tuition of domestic students, international students&rsquo; tuition is not subsidized by the government, nor is there a cap or any sort of regulations on the increases.

OUSA president Jen Carter spoke to <em>Imprint </em>about the issues surrounding the costs of international student tuition in Ontario.

&ldquo;OUSA&rsquo;s stance on international [student] tuition is that increases need to be justified &hellip; I think it definitely makes sense that international students are charged more, domestic students are subsidized by the government, so obviously [per student grant] domestic students are going to receive from the government, that needs to be made up for.

&ldquo;You can&rsquo;t just increase tuition over one year by 20 per cent to affect your bottom line. You need to make sure there are services attached to the increase so that we&rsquo;re not treating international students as cash cows,&rdquo; Carter said.

Individual universities have complete control over the levels of international tuition rates within their institutions. According to Stats Canada, international student tuition has increased by 10 per cent across the board in Ontario last year.

&ldquo;What you saw a couple years ago at McMaster, their tuition for international students went up about 30 per cent over one year,&rdquo; Carter said.

Feds VP Education Stephane Hamade also spoke against the overcharging of international students.

&ldquo;It&rsquo;s frustrating that Ontario tuition for international students is unregulated &hellip; I think the key is that they should be paying for the true cost of their education &hellip; domestic students are subsidized by the government &hellip; international students should pay the amount it will cost the university to administer their education,&rdquo; Hamade said.

In addition to being charged far more for their education, international students have far fewer scholarships and bursaries available to them.

The majority of the scholarships offered to international students, both by the province of Ontario and UW, are offered only to graduate students who are pursuing Master&rsquo;s and Doctorate degrees.

&ldquo;Integrating into a new culture in Canada costs money. [We need to fund] programs like ESL and [make] sure that those cultural barriers are addressed. Getting international students to come to Canada is a lot more than them just having to pay more tuition. I think we need to speak to a broader issue and make sure we&rsquo;re building Canadian citizens who are building some comfort when they come here,&rdquo; Carter said.

According to Carter, international students are not the only ones who face cultural barriers when they enter into post-secondary institutions.

Carter said, &ldquo;Unfortunately, we have a [large] population in Canada [of] disadvantaged groups who haven&rsquo;t traditionally gone to post-secondary education, such as aboriginal students and mature students &hellip; [This is] about us opening up the conversation beyond international students and making sure that we can tackle access barriers for domestic students, too.&rdquo;


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