November 20, 2019

Imagine paying more than twice as much as other students to attend post-secondary education and on top of that paying for rent, food and other bills every month. For many Canadian students, it’s already difficult enough to afford all these expenses. 

But that’s precisely what many of the roughly 7,000 international students from 80 different countries at Conestoga College do. They find a way to afford more than double the domestic tuition just so they can obtain an education.  

For some, they are grateful to have loved ones back home who financially support them back home while they attend classes, but for others —it’s a different story.

Some international students work part-time jobs during school, roughly 16-25 hours per week.  

“Weekly I have 16 hours of classes… I’m off and working an average of 16 hours per week,” said Santhosh Natentran, a second-year embedded systems development student at Conestoga. 

He says it can be tiring but he is able to schedule his job around his school life, an option unavailable to some students. 

“It’s quite difficult because you have to maintain your grades, as well as attendance and be present at your job and work because you have to pay your fees, so it is difficult to do it,” said Jatin Padmani, a first-year process quality and engineering student.

According to the Canadian Federation of Students, tuition fees weren’t any different for international students prior to the late 1970s. But in 1976, the federal government suggested letting provinces change international student fees as an acceptable way for them to generate extra income for post-secondary institutions. 

For a student like Natentran, he pays $15,847 per year in his program, while domestic students pay $6840—a 131.68 per cent difference in tuition.

Although, college tuition for international students is much cheaper than university tuition. Below is a chart comparing tuition costs with info gathered from univcan.ca, a website that has represented the interests of Canadian universities since 1911 and has collected the data of tuition costs for universities across Canada.

 

Conestoga has many student supports for international students such as: 

  • Help with visas & permits. 
  • Arrange airport pickup
  • Help with transportation, 
  • Finding housing options on or off-campus.  
  • Health insurance and medical care services
  • An insight into the cost of living in the Waterloo region. 
  • Foodbank services in room 2A119 on the doon campus.
  • Other student services and information.

The reason for the more than double tuition costs for international students is the fact that they aren’t paying Canadian taxes, which go to supporting higher education.

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