By Kelvin Gawley
The Student Union Society (SUS) at the University of the Fraser Valley has come out in opposition to two new fees potentially facing students this fall.
A new “international student administration fee” will be charged to foreign students at the school. The $700 surcharge per semester, amounting to $1,400 in a regular school year, is on top of international student tuition, which is already more than three times more expensive than for domestic students. It will only apply to the students’ first year in Canada, including for those who transfer from UFV’s campus in India.
“At UFV, like many universities that host international students, administration and recruitment costs are highest for its first-year international students,” said Dave McGuire, executive director of UFV international. “These costs include pre-application advising costs, documentation fees, agent fees, marketing costs, and recruitment expenditures.”
Sukhi Brar, SUS president, said the services already exist and the SUS hasn’t received adequate explanation for this new fee.
“We haven’t received any information to indicate that there’s something new or something additional to what is being done for these students,” said Brar.
Another new charge, an “experiential learning and wellness fee,” has been proposed, but not yet approved by the school’s board.
That fee of $2.80 per credit would mean an extra $42 each term for students taking a full-time slate of courses. For students taking an “average course load” it would mean an extra $25 to $30 a term, according to Dave Pinton, UFV’s director of communications.
Brar said the fee is an exploitation of a newly legislated loophole in the B.C. government’s Tuition Limit Policy, which caps tuition increases at two per cent.
“Government must take responsibility for post-secondary education,” said Brar. “It is unacceptable to fill the budget shortfalls from years of funding cuts and freezes by skirting a decade-old policy and squeezing student wallets.”
Pinton said the fee will fund new “distinct and tangible” services at the school, including work co-op programs, mental and physical health services and recreational facilities.
“These programs are in dire need of improvement at UFV,” said Brar. “While we don’t discredit the work being done, they are not sufficient to support the diverse needs of UFV students.”
Tuition at UFV currently costs $4,511 per year for non-international students. For international students, tuition is $15,600 for a full year of courses.