Students from across Canada applaud the Liberal Government’s decision to lift the limits on the number of hours international students can work off campus. The program, which starts November 15, 2022, is slated to end December 31, 2023 and will allow the over 600,000 international students studying in Canada to increase the number of hours they can work off campus beyond 20 hours.
“We applaud the federal government for taking the initiative to support and advance the career development of international learners,” said Navleen Kaur, President of the Concordia Students’ Association. “The removal of work hour limitations will be beneficial for international students to work in different sectors and gain work experience in industries that didn't offer part time employment.”
On average international students pay $36,100 a year in tuition, which is 430% more than domestic students. These fees are also almost entirely unregulated, and in some cases, fees have gone up more than 20% year to year. On top of that unpredictability, international students grapple with the same issues as domestic students: the high cost of living, unaffordable rent, and record high inflation.
“This is a big win for international students,” said Melissa Chirino, Chairperson of BC Federation of Students. “Compared to the cost of living in Canada, 20 hours does not go a long way. This decision alleviates some of the financial burden these students face on a daily basis while recognising there’s more work to be done.”
Current limitations prevent international students from working more than 20 hours in jobs off campus. Allowing international students the ability to work more than 20 hours a week opens the doors to new jobs and less precarious work. Numerous international students have reported being victims of workplace harassment and feeling stuck at those employers since the limitations on their employment are so numerous. Now, they will have the freedom to seek out new employment if they are being mistreated. Additionally, Statistics Canada research shows that when international students work off campus, they are 200% more likely to stay in Canada and become permanent residents which is crucial to make up for the shortfall in the labour force.
What Students are Saying
“We are excited about the ability for international learners to begin working twenty-plus hours off campus. This brings opportunities for students to pay into their student loans, and gain experience in a Canadian workplace setting. We applaud the Government of Canada for allowing international learners the opportunity to create income during their studies.” - Dhruv Jani, Vice-President External, Student Association of Bow Valley College
“This is a huge step forward for international education in Canada. I know a lot of my peers will be relieved by this news. I'm pleased to see the Federal Government empowering international students to offset their exceptionally high tuition.” - Nolan Nordwall, Vice President External, BCIT Student Association
More to be Done: We Need Fairness for International Students
In BC and most of Canada, international tuition fees are unregulated and can increase at any time, with no notice. Domestic student tuition fee increases are capped at 2% annually under the BC government’s Tuition Fee Limit Policy. However, tuition fees for international students in BC are not covered in this policy and have increased by more than 64% since 2006 and more than 594% since 1991.
International students are paying more than their fair share.
One of the biggest financial challenges facing international students is the inability to budget for a four-year degree properly. In any given year, fees may increase by as much as 20%, as these increases can be based on whatever the institution deems necessary to balance its budget. This unsustainable model often results in students struggling to stay in BC to finish their studies.
Exacerbating the unpredictability of the cost is the lack of requirements for fee increases, which allows institutions to implement substantial fee increases with only a few weeks of notice, leaving students scrambling to gather resources by whatever means necessary. Unlike domestic students, the consequences for international students who fail to assemble the payment for impromptu increases are grave: removal from their courses and programs and removal from the country for violating the terms of their student visa.
The Provincial Government Must Act Now
The regulation of tuition and ancillary fees for international students would create fairness, consistency, and predictability to changes in international student fees. It would respect those travelling great distances and paying substantial fees to participate in our education system. It would also mean that pricing policies would be set centrally by the BC government and not left to the individual board of governors who regularly implement increases to offset projected budget shortfalls.
We are asking the provincial government to:
- Amend the Tuition Fee Limit Policy to include regulation of fees for international students in order to ensure fairness, consistency, and predictability of international student tuition fees.
- Release a new BC international education strategy that will provide sufficient supports for international students to assist in their cultural, social, and academic integration.
Learn more about our Fairness for International Students campaign and add your voice to hundreds of other students calling on the BC government to regulate international tuition fees.
For more information you can also read our backgrounder on International Students in British Columbia.
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