Letter to the Board of Governors
This letter was written by ISA President to the Board of Governors against the increase in tuition fee for International Students.
Date: March 3, 2020
Dear Board Members,
I write this letter on behalf of the University of Alberta International Students’ Association (UAISA) to express our grave concern regarding the proposed 4% fee increase on the international students’ tuition fees during this global pandemic.
We duly acknowledge that the international students are expected to be able to afford the full cost of their program. Most of us normally plan financially before coming to the University of Alberta for our higher education, but the global pandemic has severely impacted our financial capacity to be able to sustain this additional 4% in our tuition fee this year.
Unfortunately, our tuition fee increases have become a new normal. Every year the Board votes in March and increases our tuition fee. This year the situation is different for our community, we are no longer able to bear any increment in the tuition fee especially with our family struggling back home to put food on their plates. Reducing course load to work part-time status, as a strategy for spreading out the cost is problematic for post graduation work permit eligibility. Securing entry-level student jobs, as a means to supplement income, is proving to be very difficult for students with no Canadian workplace experience.
As a community of 8,000+ students, we urge our Board of Governors to support us in this pandemic and not to increase our tuition fee this year. This is a special appeal; every year our tuition fee increases, but this year is different and we are no longer in a position to afford it. This four percent increase will force hundreds of students to rely on food banks, or stop their education.
We would also like to bring to the Boards attention that even though 7.55% of our tuition will be allocated to the international students’ financial aid, a significant percentage of this “aid’ goes into merit-based financial support such as scholarships and very little is allocated to the need-based funding such as bursaries for extenuating circumstances for upper-year students. This year the vulnerable members of our community shall be in more need of funding to support their education and thus the UAISA requests the Board to instruct the administration to allocate more proportion of international students financial aid to the need-based funding over the merit-based funding to better support the international students in the most need. We are not asking for an increment in overall funding but rather we are just asking for the already allocated 7.55% to be redirected where it matters the most, thus to the need-based financial aid at least for this year. We request the board to prevent the administration from using financial aid as a tool for meeting recruitment needs and rather focus on supporting students for which the aid is intended.
The UAISA request the members of the board to consider the impact of the global pandemic on the international students and thus do not increase the international students’ tuition this year and we further request the Board to redirect a significant amount of 7.55% to the need-based funding for this year at least. As international students, we left everything back home to study at the University of Alberta, and hope that this institution shall care for us when we need it the most. We hope that the Board shall support international students by not increasing the tuition fee and allocating more international financial aid to the need-based funding such as bursaries at least for this year.