Update on Increases to International Graduate Student Tuition

Dear members;

The following update summarizes the ongoing work to further respond to concerns our international members have shared regarding tuition increases.

Dr. Siddiqui—Associate Dean, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Western Engineering—has kindly responded to a series of questions we shared with him around the decision to increase Masters of Engineering tuition 15% within one year. In summary:

  • The decision was part of a multi-year plan to bring Western’s tuition costs inline with comparable university programs.
  • Tuition estimates are shared with incoming students based on previous year costs. Engineering is working with SGS to improve this method.
  • The increase was decided before the pandemic hit, but the costs were maintained given the costs to adapt to online teaching environments.
  • Masters of Engineering is a self-funded program, so any additional funding/supports are managed through SGPS or other sources.

These additional details are underwhelming to say the least, but still appreciated for helping to identify service gaps to address. These responses have been shared with the Graduate Engineering Society in full to ensure transparency and to invite their thoughts on next steps.

Linda Miller has committed to following up with Glen Tigert, University Registrar, and Ruban Chelladurai, Associate VP (Planning, Budgeting & Information Technology), about how, and when, the additional funding Western committed in this year’s budget will be allocated to students.

Our ongoing and impending efforts on international students’ concerns are:

  • Reached out to Lise Laporte at Western international to ask about additional supports and future collaborations to address this issue;
  • Bringing a motion to Council to ensure any further efforts are completed with the weight of Council’s vote behind them;
  • Working with university contacts to try to get late fees waived for international students;
  • Working with our Committees and the Canadian Federation of Students to get a better sense of what other universities have been doing about tuition during COVID;
  • Working with the Canadian Federation of Students to identify additional opportunities for advocacy and escalation;
  • Reviewing our own processes to improve our ability to advocate promptly and proactively.

We’d like to once again offer our sympathies to our international members both for the frustrating situation they’re in, and for the time required to identify and implement appropriate responses.

In solidarity;

kirstyn seanor
SOGS President

President’s Report: Increase in International Graduate Student Tuition

Multiple students brought forward concerns about international tuition fees. Preliminary research has found that moderate tuition increases were approved for international master’s programs in the spring and Western University has decided to maintain these approved tuition commitments. A key exception is that the Master’s of Engineering degree was approved a 15% increase.
 
The response from the university has primarily been to emphasize that tuition rates are proposed by faculties. Additionally, the university has committed an additional $13.5 million of financial support through “needs-based bursaries, work-study opportunities, summer research opportunities, and residence accommodation subsidies.”
 
These responses remain frustrating given the precarity our international students face. These responses are, nonetheless, understandable given the complexity of university affairs and the number of units involved in budgeting processes.
 
We’ve identified the following next steps:
 
    • Reach out to Engineering to get additional information;
    • Collaborate with SGPS to promote, and improve, subsidies and bursaries;
    • Identify/research responses at other universities;
    • Advocate through governmental and student advocacy contacts (e.g. CFS); and,
    • Review, confirm, and strengthen our own supports.
Additional suggestions and/or concerns are welcome at president@sogs.ca.
 
If you would like to learn more, please see our attached preliminary report here.
 
In solidarity, 
 
kirstyn seanor
SOGS President