Nova Scotia

Dal foreign students blast tuition hike

International students at Dalhousie University are angry that their tuition is going up 10 per cent, compared to three per cent for most students.

International students at Dalhousie University are angry that their tuition is going up 10 per cent, compared to three per cent for most students.

The university's board of governors approved tuition and residence fee increases on Tuesday.

Emotions were running high as about a dozen foreign students left the board meeting.

Luciana Fernandes, a third-year student from Brazil, said the university is preying on students like her. She will pay $7,900 next fall.

"It's clearly a way of using students who don't have a voice because they are temporary residents. [It's] the easiest way to get money from them, and a ridiculous amount of money," she said.

General tuition for undergraduate or graduate students born in Canada is going up three per cent. Students in law, medicine and dentistry will pay an extra six to 14 per cent.

Dalhousie president Tom Traves said international students pay more in part because their families don't pay provincial taxes that support universities.

"It's a complex question, but it fundamentally recognizes that on the one hand they tend to cost more because we have to offer a variety of services … and collectively as family units they don't contribute as much," he said.

Dalhousie officials say 70 per cent of the fee hike for foreign students will pay for expanded services to help them succeed.

Like Fernandes, David Konadu feels services are adequate now.

"It's just unfair. It's a measure of shifting the budget cuts that the provincial government is doing on to the international students," said Konadu, a student from Ghana.

"This measure is going to drive most of us away because we simply can't keep up," he said.

International students make up 11 per cent of the student body at Dalhousie.

The provincial government identified foreign students as a potential source of immigrants to deal with a declining population.

Traves said Dalhousie is committed to giving these students a good educational experience. Compared to other countries, he added, Canada's fees are low.

"Canada is a good buy for an international education," Traves said. "Whether we increase our fees by $300 or $400 doesn't change that statement at all."

Dalhousie is facing a four-per-cent cut in funding from the Nova Scotia government. The university still has to find $7 million in cuts.

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