Nfld. & Labrador

Tuition hike option means uncertain future for MUN student from Mexico

A student from Mexico says he's not sure if he would be able to attend Memorial University of Newfoundland if the tuition is jacked up.

Santiago Guzmán says he is already paying three times what a N.L. resident pays

Santiago Guzmán won the Playmakers' Award at Grenfell this year. (Submitted by Santigo Guzmán)

A student from Mexico says he's not sure if he could afford to attend Memorial University of Newfoundland if tuition is jacked up.

Santiago Guzmán is taking courses in the theatre program at Grenfell Campus in Corner Brook. He is the program's only international student.

"We are already paying three times more than domestic students usually pay," he said. "If they are planning on increasing the fees ... obviously that makes things harder for the family budget back in Mexico."​

Guzmán has completed two years of his four-year program and is heading home to Mexico for the summer break. He's leaving his possessions in storage, but doesn't know if he will return.

"I know my family has always supported me in everything that I've done," he said "I don't have a loan or anything, but I wouldn't want to make my parents pay more."

Have to start over

One of the proposals being considered by the university is a 16 per cent increase in tuition, which would drive rates for international students to $10,233 for two semesters, compared to $2,550 for residents of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Santigo Guzmán is halfway through a four-year theatre program at Grenfell College. He decided to come to Newfoundland after a college recruitment fair in Mexico, where his family lives. (Submitted by Santigo Guzmán)

Guzmán told the Corner Brook Morning Show the uncertainty is unsettling.

"The educational system in Mexico wouldn't be able to transfer my credits from the university, so basically that means that If I go home I would have to start over in my education."

The way I see the world is very different from my classmates.- Santiago Guzmán

"That would be frustrating because of all those things that I have already sacrificed — me and my family."

Sacrifices, he said, that go beyond leaving family and friends. 

"I changed everything. I have to speak English 24/7. My currency is different. The food that I eat is different," he said. "My weather, my weather! To me it's really shocking because in Mexico there's no snow."

Santiago Guzmán (left) says a tuition increase is a step in the wrong direction. (Twitter/@GrenfellTheatre)

Guzmán said Corner Brook and the province would lose too because international students bring cultural diversity.

"We will be taking steps back instead of taking steps forward ... The way I see the world is very different from my classmates."

The university will hold a town hall on Thursday afternoon at the Bruneau Centre in St. John's ahead of a board of regents meeting on May 11.

The latest annual report from Memorial University said there were 2,318 international students — 13.2 per cent of total enrolment — in 2015.

With files from Corner Brook Morning Show