Some international students at the University of Ottawa say it isn't fair that they have to pay more tuition fees than their French-speaking counterparts from abroad.

Scott Zhoe international student U of O China Aug 28 2014

International student Scott Zhoe, who will be studying at the University of Ottawa in English, says it's unfair that international students who speak French pay so much less in tuition fees. (CBC)

The discount for international students wishing to take classes in French starts for the first time this 2014-15 academic year.

New international students who are eligible are paying the same amount as Canadian students, which amounts to about a savings of about $15,000 per year.

The discount has attracted three times as many French-speaking international students to the school this year than last year. Ninety-seven students enrolled in 2013, compared to 316 students enrolled so far this year. Most of the students come from countries across Africa, including Morocco, Cameroon, Benin, Guinea and Senegal. 

Some students said the discount is unfair.

'I don't think it's the right thing to do,' student says

"I think every language is equal," said Scott Zhoe, an international student from China. "You can't make me pay more money than they do just because I don't speak French."

"I don't think it's the right thing to do."

"It's a little bit unfair, because the tuition fees are a great deal of money for everyone," said Jason Ji, another Chinese international student.

Caroline Renaud, Director, International Office University of Ottawa

Caroline Renaud, the director of the international office at the University of Ottawa, says the university hopes to continue the discount for years to come. (CBC)

The university announced the discount in 2013, and said it's part of the university's efforts to promote French on the world stage.

"The University of Ottawa has decided to make its study programs more international, specifically by encouraging French-speaking students, fostering cultural diversity and ensuring a balance between official languages on campus," said the university's chancellor, MichaĆ«lle Jean, in a news release issued in 2013.

"Our institution is working hard to advance the cause of French language and culture for current and future generations by promoting post-secondary education and research in French."

'We're not seeing it as being unfair,' university director says

The university's international office director, Caroline Renaud, said the university isn't aware of any upset students.

"We're not seeing it as being unfair, and we just very sincerely explain the situation to international students who choose to study in English," she said. "And so far, we haven't had negative reactions from students."

Yassine Moumssi, a 17-year-old mechanical engineering student, spent the weekend settling into his new dorm room at the University of Ottawa. He said it's his first time away from Morocco, and that he's here because of the new tuition fee waiver. 

"I would have stayed in Morocco because it's too expensive for me," Moumssi said.

He's saving nearly $40,000 in tuition fees over four years.

The university says it plans on continuing to offer the discount next year.