International Tuition Increases Risk Aggravating Food Insecurity, Mental Health Crises and Other Risk Factors

News Staff - Fri Jun 17, 2022

Students are deeply disappointed that the Board of Governors has approved a 6% increase to international tuition. This drastic step will increase the total cost of a Bachelor of Science degree by around $9,500 for the 2023-24 cohort.

Students and allies opposed the 6% increase throughout its hasty approval process on numerous grounds. The University's unrestricted surpluses and other available funds far outweighed the revenue generated by this increase. The cohort model pegged tuition far above the cost of program delivery only three years ago, which gave the administration plenty of insulation against inflation.

As with the recent exceptional tuition increases, consultation only began at the very end of Winter semester, a pattern that smacks of an afterthought. This is a familiar pattern: a group of international students wrote an open letter to the Board in 2013 about similar issues, noting “no consultation whatsoever on the university’s behalf with international students in drafting this proposal.” Students expect the University to take consultation more seriously in the future.

As international students explained to the University every step of the way, they face food insecurity, unstable and unsafe work, profound isolation, racial harassment, mental health crises, language barriers, harmful stereotypes, and other severe risks. Even reducing the 6% proposal to 5% would have resulted in a significant positive impact for international students. This modest adjustment — which many stakeholders in University governance found feasible — would have saved students $300 a year, comparable to at least a month of groceries or a year of student health and dental coverage.

Members of the Board, with the support of the Chair, committed to engage with student mental health and food insecurity in substantive ways. While students appreciate this commitment, the University must not neglect harm reduction and prevention. This is a missed chance to limit the burdens that already weigh on students' mental health and finances — a trend stretching back at least a decade.

"The administration wouldn't budge," said President Abner Monteiro. "I'm concerned about how students and the community see the University when we run an ample surplus but continue to increase tuition more than our current actual costs. This $9500 increase to the cost of a degree is going to have a tangible human impact."

About the University of Alberta Students’ Union

The UASU is the official representative of 35,000 undergraduate students at the University of Alberta. It advocates for students’ needs and priorities to the University of Alberta and at all levels of government.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Ari Campbell

External Relations Specialist

University of Alberta Students’ Union

News Stories