Year of study: First year, Masters
Why I support a tuition freeze: Relief from the stress of high international tuition and expensive costs of living in Vancouver.
I remember feeling absolutely elated when I received my letter of acceptance from SFU, just over a year ago. My partner and I had both been working hard to realize our dreams of continuing our education, and after several years, it was beginning to feel like our efforts were finally bearing fruit. Six months after moving to British Columbia, we are still both very happy to be here and to be at school. However, the financial stressors of being international students are beginning to take its toll.
Coming from a country with a very volatile economy, we both had to work very hard and save for several years in order to come to Canada.
While my tuition as a graduate student at SFU is reasonable, and I receive funding from my department, the cost of living in Vancouver remains very high. The biggest strain on our budget, however, is my partner’s tuition. As an international undergraduate, he is already paying a considerable amount, and with the proposed tuition increases, our family is looking at paying even more next year. Coming from a country with a very volatile economy, we both had to work very hard and save for several years in order to come to Canada. As international students, we are unable to access loans and many funding opportunities available to domestic students in Canada, and largely have to rely on ourselves to get through school. When we came here, we anticipated many different stressors. We knew that moving to a different country and a new culture would be an adjustment. We anticipated that we would miss our country and our families, and that we would have to work hard to succeed in school. What we had not anticipated was that financial pressures would override any other stressors that we would experience here.
At the moment, it looks like the only way for both of us to remain in school would be for one of us to go back to working full-time. Needless to say, this will make balancing work and school much harder. We are still very happy to have the opportunity to pursue our education in Canada. However, we do wish that we and other students like us had more support as we pursue our dreams.
With continued tuition increases and the extremely limited number of scholarships and grants for international students, SFU communicates a strong message that, for international students, education at this university is a privilege limited to those individuals who have substantial financial means. Given SFU’s strong voice in promoting social justice, both through research and community work, I hope that university’s officials and others involved in decision-making will hear our voices. By offering more financial support to students of limited financial means, SFU can show that this university is truly inclusive and engaged.