Nfld. & Labrador

International students at MUN struggling with rising cost of living, tuition

Last summer, Memorial University announced it would end a 22-year tuition freeze effective the fall of 2022, nearly doubling the tuition for international students to $20,000. The CBC spoke with international students about how they're coping with the rising cost of groceries, rent and tuition.

'I might consider moving to another province,' says 3rd-year computer science student

Faiyez Noor, a third-year undergraduate student at Memorial University, says he is considering moving to a different province because of the rising cost of living and tuition in Newfoundland and Labrador. (Jessica Singer/CBC)

Faiyez Noor works 20 hours a week at Canadian Tire to help pay for his undergraduate tuition at Memorial University.

But despite putting in extra hours at work, he says he barely has enough money to pay for the rising costs of groceries, rent and tuition. 

"It's getting difficult, to be honest," said Noor, who moved from Bangladesh to Newfoundland in 2020 to pursue a degree in computer science.

"I might consider moving to another province."

Last summer, Memorial University announced it would end its tuition freeze, in place since 1999 this fall, nearly doubling tuition to $20,000 for international students, although it still sits below the national average. Fortunately for Noor, he was enrolled before the freeze ended, so he avoided the spike. But his own tuition has gone up four per cent, and that, he said, and the rising cost of living have made Newfoundland a less attractive place to continue his education.

"I am interested in graduate studies, but I don't know if I want to do it here in Newfoundland," he said.

"The tuition will be similar to another province with better job opportunities."

This fall, Memorial University's tuition freeze came to an end after 23 years. (Emma Grunwald/CBC)

In Canada, the cost of groceries has risen 10.8 per cent in the past year, according to Statistics Canada. Because of this, as well as a $100 increase to his rent, Noor says he has little to no money left in his savings account, despite working all summer and during the school year. 

"I have to cut down on some stuff from my budget right now, and I have to do extra shifts at my work," he said.

"It is creating a bit of a problem right now."

Leila Moradi and her husband, Iman Hashemi, moved to Newfoundland from Iran just over a month ago so Moradi could pursue a degree in ocean and naval architecture at Memorial University.

Moradi chose to study in St. John's because it seemed to be one of the cheaper cities in terms of its university tuition and overall cost of living. She also received funding from the university, which helps cover her PhD tuition.

Leila Moradi, left, and her husband, Iman Hashemi, moved to Newfoundland from Iran this year so Moradi could pursue a degree in ocean and naval architecture at Memorial University. (Jessica Singer/CBC)

Although she and her husband don't have to pay the full tuition out of pocket, they say it's still sometimes a challenge to live here affordably. 

"If we didn't have this support from the university, we wouldn't come here," said Hashemi, who is looking for a job in the province after working as a petroleum engineer in Iran.

Before moving to Newfoundland, the couple planned to buy a car, but when they arrived, they realized it would be too costly. Although they have a seasonal Metrobus pass, they say they sometimes have to take a taxi to get certain places, which can be expensive. 

But what they were particularly shocked about was the cost of groceries. 

"We thought we'd have to spend $250 or $300 for each person in a month [on groceries], but right now we realize it is much more than this," said Hashemi.

"If I find a new job here, I think the situation will be better."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

Clarifications

  • A previous version of this story implied Faiyez Noor's tuition nearly doubled this year. As he was enrolled before the end of the freeze was announced, his tuition was not subject to the same increase but went up four per cent.
    Oct 04, 2022 12:14 PM NT
  • A previous version of this story said Leila Moradi was completing an undergraduate degree. She is actually completing the first year of her PhD.
    Oct 05, 2022 1:29 PM NT

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica Singer is a journalist with CBC Newfoundland and Labrador. You can reach her at jessica.singer@cbc.ca

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