International Money

When I first applied for university I was a little shocked to see how much more I’d have to pay in tuition if I were an international student. Then I thanked my parents for having me in Canada.

Then during a classroom discussion I found that international secondary students also have to pay insanely high fees just to attend high school.

Photo credit to @ Flickr via Creative Commons

This has been a question on my mind but never something I’ve taken the time to look into. Until now, that is, because I have a blog and I’m meant to post. Let’s take a look at why international students must pay so much more than domestic students to attend exactly the same school.

The common and simple answer is that in Canada our government uses our tax money to subsidize the cost of education for all domestic students. International students don’t contribute to these taxes normally so their increased tuition makes up the discrepancy.

Yet at the same time chairman David Smith of the Canadian Federation of Students in Newfoundland and Labrador points out that international students who live here do in some way contribute to the tax system when they pay the same taxes that domestic citizens do through groceries and other consumer purchases (Sharpe). This pertains to not only the postsecondary international student but to students who come to Canada for secondary education as well.

A brief look at the Vancouver School Board’s fees for international students, for example, yields this:

Screenshot taken from “International Student Application Form.”

Mind you, the monthly homestay fee is equivalent to what I would be paying for monthly rent in Vancouver, so that seems alright. But $13000 for secondary education? That’s more than the cost of an entire education postsecondary degree at UBC. These fees certainly don’t represent the entire picture; we must also factor in other costs as well, such as airfare, tutors (especially if the international student is not fluent in English) and initial personal costs for hygiene and insurance, to name a few.

So why the high cost? Surely we can argue that international students are paying for opportunity, the chance to benefit from immersion and education in an English-speaking, First-World country. There are also the additional costs of funding the multilingual staff and district student excursions that are organized for the purposes of taking care of international students. There is also a cost to pay to find families who are willing to take in international students. Yet are the costs entirely justified? Or are we profiting off of secondary international students? What about post-secondary students, who are even less supported and who still have to pay the same high costs as their younger counterparts?

Of course I am aware that there is much more research to be done; the few bits of information I’ve found are perhaps the surface of the issue. What do you think? Are the high costs for international students reasonable and fair, or are we turning education into a market in yet another way?


Works Cited:

“International Student Application Form.” International Education Program. Vancouver School Board, n.d. Web. 21 Nov 2013.

Sharpe, Kenny. “International Students Hindered By High Tuition Costs.” Excalibur. Excalibur Publications, 2010. Web. 21 Nov 2013.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Richard says:

    International students should pay more. They still do not pay even close to their “share” of the actual cost of the education they get even taking into account the small amounts of taxes they pay, of which none goes into the education fund, so they still are subsidized. Just like they, the international students, do not want to pay for my education in their country, people here do not want to pay for their eduction here. Plus tuition in Canada is cheaper for Americans EVEN at the higher rate.

    1. greyelfgirl says:

      Ah… That makes sense. I definitely should be looking into the cost of education in other countries before comparing costs too. Thanks , Richard (=

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