British Columbia

SFU to increase international students' tuition up to 20 per cent despite protests

Students at Simon Fraser University are facing hefty tuition fee hikes in the school's new budget. 

Board of governors voted to hike fees for incoming international students in new budget

About 80 students and community members showed up to the Board of Governors' budget vote on Thursday to express their concern. Some started chanting slogans when the fee increases were approved. (SFU Tuition Freeze Now/Facebook)

Incoming international students at Simon Fraser University are facing hefty tuition fee hikes in the school's new budget. 

The Board of Governors agreed to fee increases ranging up to 20 per cent, depending on the program, in a vote on Thursday.

Students have been vocal in their protests against the increases since the budget was first proposed last semester.

"Students were obviously disappointed by this [decision] because, throughout the process, we've been told that we were being heard and the administration was listening," said Jorji Temple, an international student and co-organizer of the SFU Tuition Freeze Now campaign.

Students at Simon Fraser University pictured at a previous against a proposal to increase tuition for new international students. They have been vocal in their concerns since the budget was first proposed last semester. (SFU Tuition Freeze Now/Facebook)

The largest spike of 20 per cent will be for new international students attending the Beedie School of Business.

About 80 students and community members attended the budget meeting to express their concerns, Temple said. Some started chanting slogans such as "We are SFU" and "SFU, engage us" when the budget was passed.

Before the vote, a spokesperson with SFU said they had heard the concerns raised by students and were taking them, as well as the fiscal situation of the university, into account.

Push for tuition freezes, not increases

Temple is one of the students who has been pushing for a two-year tuition freeze instead of the planned hikes.

"This is something we're fighting [for] because we think students need relief," Temple told CBC's The Early Edition before the vote took place. 

"We're hoping that by having that freeze we can push for a long-term sustainable solution."

That solution, according to Temple, includes pushing the federal and provincial governments for increased university funding.

"We know the board and the SFU administration didn't create the provincial funding gap in universities and we know that they didn't create the affordability crisis," Temple said.

"But they had the opportunity to take a meaningful step to ameliorate both of those problems today and they chose not."

The board of governors is voting on the proposed fee increases on Thursday morning. (SFU Tuition Freeze Now/Facebook)

'It's just impossible'

Annual tuition increases of two per cent for domestic students and four per cent for international students aren't unusual.

But, Temple said, the compounding effect of those fee hikes over the years, starting in 2001 under the Liberal government, are strangling students' wallets.

"If you want to work a minimum wage job to pay your tuition fees, you have to work 50 per cent more hours than you did in the '90s or the 2000s as a domestic student," said Temple.

"If you're an international student, it's just impossible; you'd have to work a 60-hour week to pay your tuition. That's not counting food, that's not counting rent."

With files from The Early Edition

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