Board to continue discussions on international student fees 

Monday’s Board of Governors meeting grappled with the issue of increasing international student fees. The issue was first discussed at the budget committee of the Board last July, but a decision was delayed so as not to affect international students already committed to coming to Concordia.

At that time, the Quebec government decided to allow Quebec universities to charge international students up to 10 per cent above the government mandated fees. Some universities have already instituted the international fee increase (see "Some Facts" below).

International students carrying a full course load (30 credits) over two semesters a year would pay an additional thousand dollars. The expected revenue to the university is in the order of $1.4 million.

President Michael Di Grappa explained that international students require strong support in their studies and student life, support that is not reflected in government funding. Although international student fees are substantially higher, the government claws back the differential and the university retains only a portion equivalent to the fees paid by local students.

As Acting Vice-President Services Roger Côté pointed out, it costs Concordia a lot more to recruit and support a student from China than it does a student from a Montreal CEGEP. The university invests heavily in our International Students Office, which offers everything from assistance to finding housing to helping navigate immigration and health insurance to general support groups for living in Montreal. The extra 10 per cent student fees will be used towards offsetting these additional operating costs, he explained.

A long discussion at the Board raised several issues, including the possibility of adopting a grandfather clause for students presently attending Concordia. The impact on any international student fee increase was also discussed in relation to university recruitment, retention and fundraising efforts.

Several student representatives on the Board underlined the strong contribution of international students to the academic excellence of the institution and to student life. A few faculty Board members questioned the potential negative impact on recruiting quality international graduate students and the possible effect on research at Concordia.

One of the key issues raised was situating the possible fee increase among a body of institutional challenges and proposals that the university faces in dealing with its deficit situation. As one Board member observed, by looking at the possible increase to international fees before examining the overall deficit situation and measures that must be taken across the university, Concordia may give the impression that it is targeting its international students, which is clearly not the intent.

After a lengthy discussion, President Di Grappa proposed to continue the discussion of the proposed fee increase for international students in May when an overall review of the deficit situation and projection for the coming years will be presented.

Some Facts

This 10 proposed per cent increase doesn’t affect all international students.

There are several exceptions, such as exchange students from some foreign countries who pay their tuition to their home university; landed immigrants and refugees in Quebec ; and students with a French passport who pay the general Quebec tuition rate thanks to a Quebec-France tuition agreement.

About 1,400 of our approximately 3,500 international students will be affected if our international recruitment levels stay at their present level.

In Montreal, both Université de Montréal and McGill increased their international student fees and started charging them in fall 2007. UQAM has also included the increase in their new proposed budget, but the overall UQAM budget has yet to be accepted by the Quebec government.


Concordia University