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Coming to Canada and establishing oneself here is a dream for many people. Peaceful, diverse, beautiful – these are just some words that come to mind when thinking about Canada. This is also what makes Canada an attractive destination for potential international students – until they take a closer look at their tuition fees.
As attractive as Canada is, the majority of undergraduate (and some graduate) programs charge a different fee for international students: it is generally 2-3 times higher than tuition for domestic students. A yearly increase in fees is not making the situation any better, especially since this increase is also 2-3 times higher for international students than for Canadians. In fact, in the year 2015/2016, international students’ tuition fees rose 6.5% Canada-wide, compared to 3.2% for domestic students.
According to the Canadian Federation of Students, one of the largest student organizations in Canada, international students have not always paid more for their education. The idea of differential tuition fees was first introduced in 1976 by the federal government as a way for the Canadian provinces to generate additional funding. Within the next 8 years, the majority of Canadian provinces accepted higher fees for international students.
The practice of charging differential tuition fees only grew after the late 1900s. Higher tuition fees are looked at as a justified burden, since they allow academic institutions to fund various academic and student initiatives. As Nevena Djuricic, RCIC and an instructor in Ashton College’s Immigration Consultant Diploma program, puts it, “Educational institutions are anxious to capitalize on the potential which foreign academic talent represents – of course, academically, but also financially.”
From the viewpoint of the institution, one can see how higher international student fees are justified. However, as an international student, you would hope that the government comes up with a funding initiative to avoid such a high discrepancy in tuition fees that can make many individuals think twice before choosing Canada for their studies.
Is avoiding studying in Canada the only solution? Not necessarily. For one, not every institution charges unreasonable tuition fees for international students. Some colleges, including Ashton College, only have a small difference in tuition fees (even no difference for some programs). For many institutions, the difference in fees also varies depending on the program and courses that you are taking. For example, it is easier to find graduate programs that charge the same fees for international and domestic students.
Canada is still a land of opportunities and there are different ways to get ahead, even when you are an international student. The key is to be very mindful about your studies in Canada. Here are a few tips on what you could do: