International students say MUN's tuition hike will cause others to rethink enrolment

·3 min read
Jiya Chandan came from India to attend Memorial University because of the low tuition.  (Mike Simms/CBC - image credit)
Jiya Chandan came from India to attend Memorial University because of the low tuition. (Mike Simms/CBC - image credit)
Mike Simms/CBC
Mike Simms/CBC

Some of Memorial University's international students say those who are following them won't look to the school as a viable option for education anymore, in light of a recent announcement that tuition will nearly double in 2022.

Jiya Chandan, a student who came to Newfoundland and Labrador from India because of the university's low tuition, told CBC News international students may begin to look elsewhere, to bigger cities with more diversity.

"With MUN costing around the same as different Atlantic Canadian universities, someone who is in my shoes five years ago would look at that and be like, 'If I could pay the same amount of money to live in a more isolated community with worse weather, then I'd rather go live in a place like Halifax or New Brunswick or anywhere else," Chandan said.

Tuition for international students, frozen for 22 years, will nearly double, to $20,000. The national average sits at around $32,000.

Chandan said she doubts she would have chosen Memorial University five years ago if the price of tuition were what it will be in 2022.

Henrike Wilhelm/CBC
Henrike Wilhelm/CBC

"While the cost of living in places like Halifax is slightly higher you also do get to live in a bigger city with more diversity, more LGBTQ people. [It's] closer to mainland so travel is cheaper," she said.

"When you choose to come to Newfoundland you're also committing to the fact that going home is a much more expensive ordeal compared to living in different parts of Canada."

Challenges and struggles

Fahmida Ahmed, Memorial University Students' Union's director of finance and services, said the rise in tuition for international students — when she enrolled, it was $8,800, before a 2019 increase — will make it difficult for international students to attend MUN and will change the university's demographic.

"Right now we know there's a lot students that come from low-middle income to middle income people, and when you're going to make the tuition $20,000 a year there would be enrolment, but we already know there's going to be a 20 per cent cut to enrolment," she said.

"I don't know how many low- or middle-income students will be able to afford that price, or be able to even to come to MUN. That's my biggest concern."

Ahmed said the tuition hike will "massively affect" international students' decisions in choosing a university, citing the cost of travelling to and from the province, and the lack of services offered by larger cities.

Mike Simms/CBC
Mike Simms/CBC

"We're lacking on transportation, we're lacking on infrastructure," she said.

"If you're increasing the tuition, are we going to see a great increase in the quality overall? That's a doubt."

Ahmed started at MUN in 2018 and said she was among the first crop of international students to see a hike in fees, with courses rising from $880 per course to $1,146 in 2019.

When the shift happened, Ahmed said, she began to struggle and considered moving home to Bangladesh. Instead she took jobs where she could find them and reconsidered her academic career.

"I was looking at options to go to [the College of the North Atlantic]. I was looking for options to do different programs at MUN that would somehow work out, and I just couldn't find a way," she said.

"If the tuition is going to increase, in place, obviously, you should have those bursaries. You should increase funding."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting