Joint Statement by the CSA, OUSA, and CFS-O, calling on the Province to protect International Students
March 31, 2022
March 31, 2022 -
Dear Minister Dunlop,
Ontario’s Public Colleges and Universities play an essential role in developing a highly skilled workforce needed to support the economic and social development of Ontario’s communities, critically underpinning Ontario’s recovery from the pandemic and beyond. Unfortunately, since 2018, Ontario funding transfers to Public Colleges and Universities have dwindled to record lows, and currently Ontario has the lowest provincial grants & tuition-relief funding, as well as the lowest full-time expenditure (FTE) student funding, in the country. This historic underfunding has forced many Public Colleges and Universities to heavily rely on increased international student tuition in order to remain financially sustainable.
Since 2013, international student enrolments for Public Colleges have grown 342%, and as of 2020, 30% of all 348,350 students enrolled at Public Colleges in Ontario were international students. Similarly, international students at Public Universities now represent 21% of total enrolments, up 175% since 2015. Unlike for domestic students, Public Colleges and Universities are freely able to increase international student tuition levels. As a result, for Public Colleges in 2020/21 alone, international student tuition fees surged up to $14,306 per year, an 8% increase over the previous year; representing 68% of colleges’ total tuition fee revenue. Public Universities in Ontario have the highest international student tuition in the country, averaging $42,185 in 2021/22, up 178% since 2013. Unfortunately for many institutions, revenue collected from international students now outweighs provincial funding. For example, Public Colleges in Ontario receive over half a billion more from international tuition fees ($1.7 billion) than from the Province ($1.1 billion).
This over-reliance by Public Colleges and Universities on international student tuition not only poses risks to Ontario’s economy and long-term growth, but also adds tremendous financial pressures that are having devastating psychological and physical impacts on Ontario’s international students, leading to housing and workplace exploitation, abuse, and, sadly in many cases, suicides.
International students are a vital part of Ontario’s economy and post-secondary sector, reflecting the high-quality education offered by our Public Colleges and Universities, and Ontario’s international reputation as a multi-cultural, safe, and welcoming environment. International students contribute $10.8 billion towards Ontario’s GDP, supporting 118,206 jobs in 2018 alone. There is a clear economic advantage for the Ministry to provide the necessary supports needed to ensure international students remain a vital contributing asset to Ontario’s economy.
We write to you, as provincial student associations representing over 540,000 post- secondary students, requesting that you implement an immediate international student tuition freeze, establish a $1000 emergency tuition relief fund for students in need, and commit to increasing the base operating grant funding for Public Colleges & Universities. We look forward to receiving a response from you with details of further action.