According to the Statistics Canada report Canadian and international tuition fees by level of study (current dollars), in Canada, international students pay around five times what a Canadian student pays for an undergraduate degree and around three times more than a domestic student for graduate school during the 2022-2023 period.
While the report shows that all students in Canada have faced fee increases over the last few years, tuition fees for international students have increased significantly to the point it has become a burden.
Maria Alejandra Monge, an international student from Guatemala, says she and her sister had to start working as soon as they came to Canada in order to help their family to cover the expenses of studying abroad.
“I think colleges and universities should be more understanding of our situation. We don’t just worry about assignments and grades, there’s life outside of college that we also worry about,” says Monge. “When tuition prices keep increasing, we still need to pay for transportation, food, rent and save a little to go out once in a while.”
Bipin Kumar, international students’ commissioner at the Canadian Federation of Students, says that in some cases universities primarily depend on international students as one of their main sources of revenue.
“I am in my last year and recently made the last tuition payment of my program. I remember last fall my tuition was $8,957.34 and this fall semester I paid $9,278.88,” says Carla Cucurullo, an international student from the Dominican Republic. “There’s a little over a $300 difference there and that makes me realize how lucky I am that my parents are able to help me pay my expenses, but I know there are thousands of students out there who have to pay for everything themselves.”
Kumar says the CFS’s primary position is that there should not be any difference in fees at all, and any increase in tuition fees for international students should not be more than the increase for domestic students.
“International tuition fees have been unregulated since 1996 when the provincial government discontinued institutional funding for international students,” says Kumar. “This means that institutions are free to raise international tuition fees as they see fit.”
According to the Statistics Canada report, the most expensive province to study in is Ontario.
Recently, an action-oriented group of the Ontario College Student Association created the Need or Greed campaign that advocates for international tuition equity.
In an effort to raise awareness toward the high cost or international students’ tuition fees, Need or Greed organized a peaceful protest at Queen’s Park on Thursday, Nov. 17.