On November 22, the University of Toronto Mississauga Student Union (UTMSU) held a virtual meeting to discuss the impacts of tuition costs primarily on international students. During the meeting, members reviewed the provincial government’s funding plan and the disproportionate education budget allotted to international learners.
The meeting revealed that of $31 billion of Ontario’s post-secondary education fund, a mere $6.9 billion is given to the Ministry of Colleges and Universities. Additionally, these numbers have only decreased since 2019, after a $333 million drop in funding.
On average, first-year international students pay over nine times more than their domestic peers. On the University of Toronto Mississauga’s website, tuition for domestic students interested in Management programs stands at $6,100, as opposed to $58,160 for international students.
This is also true for incidental fees, including campus-based services, recreation services, and student health and dental plans. International students must include these fees in their tuition even though they are unable to utilize them.
President of UTMSU, Mitra Yakubi, states, “As students, we often feel isolated. We are not alone in our call for a better future.” Yakubi even goes on highlight the setbacks of student loans.
“Decades ago, students could work part-time to pay their loans in summer but nowadays that is not the case. Students need lower fees to better focus on their education. Paying debt also sets back your career goals and prevents you from starting a family.”
As UTM features a student population from more than 130 different countries, the university should accommodate for international needs. This is especially important as these students promote the high global ranking that U of T currently holds. International students also produce heavy financial contributions, which is why their demands are just as important as students in Canada.
Romina Avila, a fourth-year student at UTM, is an international student from Mexico. Enrolled in the Humanities program, Avila states, “We’re being treated in an unfair and predatory manner. Back in Mexico, Canada [expressed] they’re very accommodating towards international students and that they’d love to have more. When you actually arrive, however, it’s a different story.”
In an effort to combat the lack of government funding for colleges and universities, Ontario’s Ministry of Education is attempting to implement performance-based funding. Performance-based funding is essentially financial support based on a degree’s merit in the job market.
During the meeting, the UTMSU highlighted some statistics with regard to this funding.
Currently, programs that meet this standard already gain 1.4 per cent more funding than programs that do not. If performance-based funding were more common, 60 per cent of funding would be provided based on performance. This puts smaller and rural post-secondary institutions at risk for a loss of funding.
The UTMSU wrapped up the Education for All meeting with a fortunate feeling of hope. Initiatives such as Mexico’s Student Movement and the South African Student Movement are continuing to fight against tuition costs elsewhere in the world.
According to the meeting, some students managed to secure a national bursary while fighting against these educational barriers.
By visiting the Canadian Federation of Students website, UTM students can learn more about student movements that fight against these costs. They are also able to contact @CFSFCEE and @CFSON on Twitter, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to share their thoughts.