Kaori Inui – The Aquinian
International students at St. Thomas won’t be saying they are paying double tuition any more; in fact, they will be paying far more than double if the STU raises tuition for international students.
While the provincial government of New Brunswick announced their tuition freeze will enter its third year in learning institutions across province last month, international students at St. Thomas will face continuous increase of the tuition fees.
For this school year, international Arts students paid $9,690 while Canadians paid $4,570.
Larry Batt, Dean of Students, said the tuition will likely to be raised by 5 per cent for international students next year, which means tuition will pass the $10,000-mark.
“The context of the situation we have is that the provincial government doesn’t give us per student grant for international students,” he said.
Maria Cristina Montenegro, who will be in her fourth year at STU next year, says she will have to raise money for her tuition fees.
“It’s very expensive,” she said.
Montenegro is from Ecuador, where she says the economic crisis affecting the country as much as it does in the rest of the world.
Montenegro is worried that raising tuition, coupled with the poor economy, will make it harder for her family to afford her tuition fees.
“It will mean that I will have to work or I will have to find many means to raise money for my tuition,” she said. “We do have to pay a lot more, but then why should it be more than double? I think the Canadian government could also help on international students.”
While most international students wish their tuition was lower, Sabrina Sotiriu, an international student from Romania and president for St. Thomas University International Students Association, thinks the difference is reasonable as the majority of campus population is Canadian.
“I don’t think it will have that much impact on international students,” she said.
“The university still gives a big number of scholarships for international students, so that’s still going to be one of the incentives that we are going to still have to come.”
Whatever the reason for raising the tuition is, the economic recession is counteracting what St. Thomas is hoping for: more international students for higher tuition fees.
Montenegro says a lot of her friends who already attend at STU are concerning not coming back to school next year.
“A lot of my friends are financially unstable,” she said. “So they would actually stay home, not transferring to any other universities, [and] they continue their studies at home, which [are] a lot less expensive.”
Economic crunch and increasing international tuition may result in fewer students from abroadKaori Inui – The Aquinian
St. Thomas’ board of governors put out a strategic plan for international students back in 2005, in which the university aims to increase the international students’ population to 10 per cent by 2010.
“This is part of a broader objective to enhance our internationalization effort,” said Larry Batt.
When the plan just came out, the number of international students hit the highest point with 136 students. The number has been declining since then. This year, it was 112.
Judy Coates, the international students advisor at STU, says the raising tuition fees is one of the reasons the university is experiencing the declining international population.
“I would be fearful of that harming the number of students coming in to the school, and international students and people around the world are feeling the economic crunch as much as Canada,” she said.
“The number is going to be down for international students, so by having higher rates, that’s not really going to be serving the university’s purpose of bringing students in.”
Although Coates won’t know how many students will end up at STU this September just yet, she is guessing the number will be lower.
“I’ve heard that the interest level of applications are lower,” she said. “I’m not involved with the decision making, and the university certainly needs money, but I’m not sure if [raising the tuition] is the way that it should go.”
The tuition fees for the next year will be made public by May. Until then, Joan McFarland, an economics professor at STU, says there’s room for starting negotiation with the provincial government.
“I think the kind of action probably would be called for to get any change, particularly noting this business that it’s more than twice now is quite a strong argument,” she said.
McFarland says the STUISA may need to negotiate with the university and the provincial government by teaming up with the Student Union.
“It might take a few years, but I think lobbying is worth doing.”
Batt agrees and mentions that the provincial government’s goal is to increase international students and keep them within the province.
“My first hope would be the government gives us money for international students,” he said.
“If our goal is to have more students at the university, and more students living in the province, we have to provide the whole series of support.”