Thirteen dignitaries from French-speaking countries are touring University of Moncton this weekend, a campus many of them didn't know existed.

"Most of them didn't even know we have students from their own countries," said Marie-Linda Lord, the university's vice-president of student and international affairs.

She welcomed the ambassadors and dignitaries from Ottawa earlier this week.


Marie-Linda Lord, University of Moncton's vice-president of student and international affairs, is hosting 13 dignitaries from French-speaking countries. (University of Moncton)

"For all of them it's the first time in Moncton. So, it's good for the university, it's good for the region, it's good for the province."

Lord says foreign students are needed to keep declining enrolment numbers up.

"We have a lot to do to make sure that we're on the map, even if 18 per cent of our students are from foreign countries, but, you know, it's not well known."

This is the first time Rwandan diplomat Shakilla Umutoni has been to the Maritimes.

"I didn't know this university, but this has been quite a wonderful experience for me and I'll definitely recommend that to many of our students," said Umutoni.

Universities across the country have come under fire for treating foreign students like cash cows.

They can pay up to three times more than Canadian citizens.

Lord admits foreign student fees have jumped at Moncton University over the last two years. But they only pay half the national average of almost $20,000 a year, she said.