Letter: International students should not bear undue financial burdens

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Editor,

The Graduate Students’ Society (GSS) is strongly opposed to the proposed decoupling of international and domestic tuition slated for a vote at the March 28 meeting of UVic’s Board of Governors. Of 3 000 graduate students at UVic, nearly 900 pay international tuition. This proposal could see international tuition raised 5 per cent in May, and more in subsequent years.

Disappointingly, UVic did not consult with international students in developing the proposal. As a result, UVic’s reputation as an inclusive, welcoming environment for international graduate research is under threat. The disproportionate tuition increase and lack of transparency leaves international students feeling isolated and apprehensive.

Through discussions with administrators, the GSS learned they thought the proposed tuition increase was insignificant, requiring no consultation. However, it is a myth that wealthy families bankroll international graduate students; in fact, we know international students disproportionately rely on the UVSS Food Bank to make ends meet.

Additionally, this proposal ignores the important contributions of international graduate students to UVic and the broader community. We asked some international students how this proposal will affect their research:

“My research supports Indigenous communities in B.C. and the N.W.T. in their efforts to preserve and revitalise their Indigenous languages . . . Indigenous language revitalisation is a necessary step towards reconciliation . . . rising tuition fees would require me to seek additional employment off campus . . . making it impossible for me to complete my PhD on time” — A, Linguistics, Israel.

“My research focuses on understanding the impact of human actions on the natural environment, as well as increasing the performance of environmentally friendly behaviour. Given that my research is mostly based in Canada, I believe that the results of my studies will be most directly beneficial to the Canadian society . . . All my expenses in Canada are paid with my scholarship and income from being a teaching assistant (TA). In other words, my family does not contribute to any of my expenses here.” — L, Psychology, Singapore.

“I do research on employment-purposed language training for refugees in Canada . . . I already have to work off campus to support my studies . . . this tuition hike will be a burden since my third year is not funded. I feel disrespected, further marginalized, and excluded.” — Y, Linguistics, China.

There are many stories like these: not stories of wealthy parents and unlimited credit cards, but stories of taking second and third jobs off campus, stories of anxiety that research will remain incomplete, and stories of frustration at being ignored.

On March 28, at 11 a.m., members of the GSS will be in the public gallery of the Board of Governor’s meeting. We hope our presence in the public gallery will show our disagreement with this proposal, and we hope you will join us.

We are committed to working with UVic to address the very real budgetary challenges they face. As researchers and teachers, we care deeply about this university and want nothing more than to see its success continue, and we believe international graduate students are central to UVic’s success.

Daniel Martin,

GSS Director of Communications

Amanda McLaughlin,

GSS Chair

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