The topic I have selected for my BUS400 final project and presentation is on why the international students get charged such high fees in Canada. The advancement in technology and world business has led to globalization. People and goods are now able to freely move from one country to another for the sake of transacting businesses and pursuing higher education in other countries has become part of this globalization movement. Most countries, Canada included, have become a popular destination for many international students. This globalizations has led to various great developments while on the other side has led to the infringement of universal rights. My hypothesis is that everything has two sides and thus the case of studying abroad is no exemption. A background research I conducted led to the establishment that international students contribute nearly $20 billion to Canada’s economy through tuition fees, room and accommodation among other expenses as documented by the Canadian Department of Commerce. As such, this paper highlights why international students are charged highly compared to their local counterparts. It further evaluates the legality of this trend and provides suggestions and recommendations to help international students studying abroad to operate within manageable budgetary allocations.
Point of Interest
My interest in covering this topic has been sparked by the fact that I am an international student in Canada and thus have first-hand experience of paying exorbitant prices towards attaining foreign education. I paid outrageous tuition fees to the UFV every semester while I later established that it may not have been the case if I was studying in an Asian based country. Countries such as China, Korea and Japan have been able to moderate or control the university fee rates as compared to the European nations like Australia and America. As a result, this has worked as a strategy to draw more students to the Asian based institutions of higher learning.
Attaining post-secondary education is a key requirement for individuals in the society who aim at making progress towards economic development of a country. This is because when majority of the people within the population are educated, it has long term impacts such as reducing the rate of unemployment, crime rates, better healthcare expenditure management and the learned people are able to engage effectively in civic activities in the country. This implies that getting a higher degree in education has become an essential achievement.
In pursuit of this goal, most students are hoping to upgrade their skills to meet the international level competitiveness requirements and as a result, they end up pursuing higher education in foreign countries. This means leaving one’s home country to study abroad, hence the tag-international students. In choosing whether to study abroad or in one’s country, most students evaluate the availability of financial aid that would be able to sustain their stay abroad. In most countries, policy makers and other stakeholders have gradually put in place measures to ensure that the financial barriers are eliminated or reduced to increase the number of international students joining their institutions of higher learning.
The critical contribution that is often made by international students towards the promotion and development of a country’s economy ought to be considered. We contribute towards funding large portions of the educational costs especially for the country’s public universities and also promoting the technology industry, given that most international students pursue information and technology related courses.Back home, our parents work so hard, including taking on two jobs, to raise the required huge sums of money. These, coupled with the culture shocks and the difficulties experienced while moving and settling in new countries is already enough challenges to international students. Within campus, I see international students expected to cover for their own food and other housing expenses and most times, the fluctuation rate of the dollar is really hurting.
Most countries have experienced the tough economic times that have led to slashing of budgets that have also impacted on institutions of higher learning. As a result of the financial intrigues, educational budgets were slashed by more than half and most school managements resorted to reducing the costs for local students and in turn increasing them to international overseas. A major impact has been on the tuition fees which have incredibly been raised. That has affected most local politicians and parents, a few of whom have even wondered whether their students could get in if they paid international tuition fees.The tuition fees that is expected from international students for sustainability in institutions of higher learning has continued to raise concerns and even become a political agenda in the Canadian system.
A key question has often been whether these high charges are legal in the first place. The legality of these high fees imposed has on several occasions been challenged in various forums and even led tostudents’ protests on the streets. The hardest hit areas include Vancouver and Toronto, where students annually take to the streets to protest the high rates with the goal of influencing policy makers to reconsider their decisions. On average, 57 percent of college and school related financing, have increased to about 80 percent within the last two decades. In Canada, it is estimated that the cost of education has increased from 14 percent to more than 35 percent in the recent years. Compared to other countries; Canada falls in the following category; Australia $25,375, U.S. $25,226, U.A.E; $21,371; U.K. $19,291 and Canada $18,474. The average academic cost in Canada, in view of expenses of other similar learning institutions is $18,474, implying it as one of the highest.
While it is perceived that proper planning goes into account when students are aiming to study in Canada, students are often expected to give confirmation of assets and financial resources as evidence that they can sufficiently provide for themselves during their study period in Canada. This is because their expenses are not financed and so most colleges, in reaching out to these students, reveal the required cost estimates to finance their dreams. The charges have been so high on account that this approach is based on the inability of universities to use provincial grant monies set aside to educate Canadian students and spend it on international students, hence they are self-funded.
For international students, the cost of living is very high and we often have no options other than to keep calling our parents and requesting for more support with empty ban accounts. My colleague narrated how she spent $8,000 more than her initial budget and still had pending balances to clear that would amount to about another $25,000. As a result, she has taken on two part time jobs to support her course as an international student in a Canadian university. Another friend explained to me how his family had to sell most of their family property so he could afford his education abroad as an international student. He seemed frustrated and was keen to point out that had he known earlier, he would have opted to stay in his home country to pursue higher learning as at times, it may not make much difference in the job market upon one’s completion.
It is unanimously known that learning is an activity that attracts a cost to every student regardless of the country in which they pursue the education. What varies is the amount of fees charged per country; and this largely depends on the political decisions made by the states and governments in which the institutions of higher learning are based. In countries like France, German, Italy and Spain, the cost of education is largely sponsored by the public funds; while in others like the USA and Canada, these are supported by private donations. Denmark, Brazil and Saudi Arabia are among the few that provide free studies to students while others like Japan, China and still the USA, scholarships are a common source of higher education funding.
Nonetheless, the last ten years have seen tuition fees in Canada tremendously increase and particularly for international students. Research indicates that Canada has grown to being one of the countries with the highest educational cost for foreign students. Canada is regarded among the world’s top countries with institutions that offer the best career prospects. In terms of alumni employment, it has been ranked position 16 globally. In most cases, the common reason given for the high fees charges is that the proceeds received are often used to support the international student programs and services within the institutions of learning. These are aimed at ensuring that the students are retained, have graduated on time and enjoy their learning experience abroad. This reason applies to almost all universities and is used as the value proposition to attract international students.
Another reason why international students are charges high fees is due to their tax contributions. Usually, the students who are out-of state and their families pay the federal taxes as opposed to the international students who neither pay the federal or state taxes hence the higher tuition fees charge. Another reason given by institutions is that the universities are competing at the global level and so their costs are a reflection of the high standards of education being offered. The universities boast about providing excellent opportunities for international students to experience life in the best environments. They tie this to provision of first-class comprehensive programs that offer competitive income rates in the global market. While this may be true to an extent, it should not be used as the sole reason to charge international students higher fees.
Another reason given for the high fees charges on international students is that they come different countries across the world, with majority being from developing countries. As a result, it is presumed that they have more health care needs compared to the local students including the need for immunization, chronic preventions and preventive health conditions. This said, I find it unfair to then group all international students under one category given that they emanate from various countries; hence the health needs also vary.
In terms of legality, the case of charging high fees without involving the students raises concerns. Canada, like any other countries in the UK and Australia has customer laws. These stipulates that the proprietors in this case (school owners) have the right to set the appropriate costs; but on condition that actual costs be accurately displayed in whole so that the customers (Students) can make appropriate decisions. As it is, the policy makers are right in setting the fee charges for international students but the challenge is in the withholding some costs that are hidden hence making students pay more than what was initially indicated.
Still on the issue of legality, it has been argued that international students, unlike the local students whose parents pay taxes, do not pay the state and federal taxes. This, in my view, is a misconception to an extent because as international students, we are already paying taxes on everything else we buy ranging from food, books, water, and house rents to transportation. It is legal and fair for institutions to charge higher costs for the international students but not to exaggerate the costs as if they were the new cash cows. Other safer measures in Canada can be adopted like making arrangements with the health ministry to let international students benefit from the health plans within the provinces as is the case in Manitoba. Demanding separate high health insurance schemes for international students is considered as an excuse to bridge the financial gaps.
From a personal experience, before I embarked on selecting the universities for my study in Canada as an international student, I explored various options available on making the study cost affordable. I reached out to establish opportunities for financial assistance that were available from my home country for sponsorship possibilities. This is because in most cases, governments have played a critical role in supporting international students.In Canada, international students can benefit from programs such as the PSLP. This particular one helps to facilitate the loan acquisition process. The school’s management collaborates with the Royal bank to offersubsidized interest rates loans to the MBA students.The Rotman then embarks on paying the interest accrued by the student’s loan and upon completion of their program, the students pay the loans interest-free. Such are new programs that have been launched in Toronto and similar models could be adopted by the government to make the lives of international students bearable.
All is not lost despite the high fees charges on international students. The most important thing is to reach out for more financial assistance programs while in campus. The students are expected to really prepare and embark on saving plans without making hasty decisions. Options are available to make some additional money without necessarily interfering with the course work and academic class schedules. Often, the first option is to work within the university by being one of the young scholars to help new students. This is in the form of a teaching assistant who offers mentorship to others and gets compensated. Through such initiatives, cases of students dropping out of the programs are rare. This is also because for most international students, it is expected that they show evidence of financial ability to sustain themselves all through the programs, as a pre-requisite for study permit. We, myself included, also commit to working hard while in campus to ensure that we keep our financial status above average to the end of the programs. As international students in Canada, and I believe the same applies to all others across the world, we consistently keep in mind the thousands of miles we travelled and the family members we left behind hence these serve as motivation to work hard and be as resourceful as we can.
Policy makers within the Canadian education sector are very much aware that high fees charged on international students are not the best. This has continued over the years with the reason that international students often have no direct political support and influence within the Canadian systems hence they are seen as easy targets. This is why in some provinces already, funding has been slashed and deregulated by governments and as a result, international students have been targeted to help bridge these gaps as the revenue generators. It is a fact that the high differences in the amount of fees charged are unfair and often create barriers towards achieving higher education for most students across the world, particularly, for aspiring international students in Canada.
To add on this, the long term impacts could be drastic given the need to increase the literacy levels of the population. Previous research studies have indicated that even immigrants who have gained the Canadian higher education has easily been integrated into the system (workforce) compared to their counterparts who may not have benefited from higher education. This justifies the need to lower the cost of fees for international students so as to avail such opportunities to more people. Such high fees charges serve as a threat to the goal of retaining foreign students and thwart the government’s goal of promoting a professional and educated work force. Policy makers should reconsider that as of now, these international students are building the Canadian economy through the annual contribution of $8 billion. This implies that if more are allowed to stay on and work, the economy will attain higher booms following their contribution due to a large population of reproductive age.
It is important for the colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning to be cognizant of the fact that international students form an important portion of the country’s social, cultural and academic make-up of university life and should not be treated simply as cash cows. Charging high fees makes them live in a state of uncertainty as they never know what rates would be slapped on them annually; hence a threat to their sustainability in finishing up their selected courses. Following the discussion and arguments presented in this research study, an appropriate way forward would be for the education stakeholders to embark on making the system friendlier to the international students rather than widening the gaps that create the class differences among students.
The overall objective of education is to instil knowledge and development in the minds of the students to eventually create new opportunities for the country’s development. This implies that opportunities should be availed to allow for the absorption of more international students in the Canadian University as a means to strengthen diversity. This goal can only be attained by streamlining the high fee charges to international students. This calls for the institutions to be upfront and transparent about their tuition fees charges to all potential students to enable proper budgeting in advance. This will enable students to select courses that are within their affordable budgets.