Open Letter to University of Alberta Board of Governors Chair Doug Goss
We are a collection of international students studying at the University of Alberta. Throughout our degrees we have had the opportunity to engage in campus life culminating in positions of leadership within campus organizations. Our involvement on campus has given us the chance to better engage in the campus community, to help build a stronger University of Alberta community and gain an understanding of the make up of the University’s international student population. It is from this perspective that we ask you to consider the impact of the proposed tuition increases of between $1000-$1700 for international students.
First of all, having international students in Edmonton is good for the U of A. While we already pay much higher tuition rates than domestic students, we contribute much more than just financial stability to the University — we contribute diverse global perspectives that make this a truly international institution. Attracting worldwide talent to Alberta enriches Albertans just as much as it enriches us.
Having international students attend the U of A is good for Alberta. Many of us will end up staying in Alberta after graduating. This means that this diverse pool of talent that has been drawn to the U of A will not only study in Edmonton, but many of us will end up making Edmonton our home: the place that we work, live, and pay taxes.
However, and despite the clear advantages of internationalization, this massive tuition hike threatens to ruin a good relationship between international students and the U of A. The decision to study abroad is not an easy one, but at a young age we decided to leave the comfort of our families and community to travel across the world. This meant spending a lot of time considering which university would be the best fit for us, by reviewing factors including the quality and the cost of the education provided. While many of us could budget for minor cost variations, an unexpected increase to students already halfway through their education of $1700 is simply unfair, and for many, an unaffordable increase.
The current proposal doesn’t provide us with any more scholarships, and many of us are already working extensive hours to afford our education. There was no consultation whatsoever on the university’s behalf with international students in drafting this proposal. If there had been, we would have asked the University why we are paying more for less — this proposed increase is much higher than the rate of inflation, and we already know that the U of A will have fewer professors and courses next year as a result of the budget cuts. We haven’t even been told what this money will pay for, so we don’t know if it will pay to reverse the cuts the U of A has already made to our education, or if it will simply go towards paying the salary of an inefficient Administration.
This proposal doesn’t include any real justification besides cornering the one vulnerable group at the U of A that the Administration isn’t prohibited from charging more. This increase will increase stress on students who are already overworked to pay for their current tuition, and will drive international students away by causing students to drop out midway through their degrees despite already spending tens of thousands of dollars to come to study in Canada.
Ana Fernandez, President, Latin American Students’ Association
Tianrui Pan, President, Chinese Students and Scholars’ Association
Tymothy Jaddock, President, Ukrainian Students’ Society
Jar-R DeLara, President, Philippine Students’ Association
Heena Sengar, President, Indian Students’ Association
Yves Lai, President, Chinese Compassion and Relief Youth Group
Mohamad Youssef, President, Canadian and Arabic Students’ Association
Abdul Hadi Hood, President, Malaysian Students’ Association
Mike McGinn, Co-Chair, Student Umbrella for Social Justice
Elaine Jar, Co-President, Chinese Students’ Club
Zartaj Habib, Vice-President (Social), Pakistani Students’ Association
Thomas Trombetta, International Students’ Representative, Augustana Students’ Association