Winnipeg universities benefit from international students, fees
Winnipeg's post-secondary institutions are seeing a growing number of international students, and their higher tuition fees are helping the schools' pressured budgets.
Education costs in Manitoba are among the lowest in Canada, giving students from overseas a good incentive to come here.
"I picked University of Winnipeg because of the low tuition," said Divya Babbar, who has come from India to study computer science.
Not even changes in culture, climate, food and technology have deterred students like Otutuama Akpevwe, who made the journey from Africa to study biology at the downtown university.
"I'm from Nigeria. Our educational system is so different from what we have here at the U of W," he said.
Schools seeking overseas students
Attracting international students has become an important goal for Manitoba's universities.
Last year they were slated to have five per cent increases in funding, but instead received half that amount.
At the University of Winnipeg, full-time students from within Canada pay $5,815.10 a year in tuition, while full-time international students pay $12,019.39.
At the University of Manitoba, estimated international tuition fees range between $11,300 and $15,500, which is roughly three times what domestic students pay.
But those higher fees do not appear to be scaring away students. This year, the University of Winnipeg has seen a 15.5 per cent increase in international student enrolment, while the University of Manitoba has seen steady increases in recent years:
Brandon University says it has seen between 120 and 145 international students a year between 2008-09 and 2011-12.
A spokesperson told CBC News that Brandon has the lowest tuition rates for international students among Manitoba's three big universities.
Bring diversity, revenue
At Red River College, international student enrolment is 602 this year — an increase of about 38 per cent from 435 students last year.
A college spokesperson told CBC News that for each international student recruited, three new program spaces can be offered to students from Manitoba.
University of Winnipeg president Lloyd Axworthy said the school does recruit overseas for students, and the extra tuition is needed.
Axworthy added that international students bring diversity "and exuberance — I mean, they're here because they really want to study — and they bring revenue. I mean, it's a combination."
On campus, Divya and Otutuama said universities should generally be a little more transparent about why they charge more for international students.
At the same time, both students said the good education and away-from-home experience are worth the price they're paying.
Otutuama and Divya also credited the University of Winnipeg with providing a great mentorship program for arriving international students.