March 21: Report of BoG Meeting and Vote


21 March 2019, 11:45am

SFU Tuition Freeze Now (

This morning, Simon Fraser University (SFU) Board of Governors voted to accept SFU’s proposed 2019/2020 budget, including tuition hikes ranging from 2% to 20%. During the meeting, administrators repeatedly pitted students against each other by implying that mental health provision, sexual violence prevention services, international bursaries and scholarships, and efforts toward reconciliation with Indigenous peoples were potential targets for cuts if tuition did not increase. Administrators did not mention the possibility of shifting priorities within the budget, including capital projects ($35.3m last year) or top-level administrative salaries (which have increased by over $1m per year since 2004), or reconsidering wasteful spending such as the extensive use of external consultants; this made it clear that the budget decision had already been made, and that consultation with students would not affect this year’s budget. For months prior to today’s meeting, Tuition Freeze Now (TFN) advocated for a non-binding alternative budget incorporating a tuition freeze, but the board and Administration refused.

After the board approved the budget, students proposed two motions, under the Board of Governors rule #6.7, which allows for the tabling of motions related to “emergent matters”. One motion proposed that the University join with TFN and SFU’s student societies to lobby government for increased post-secondary education funding to enable a two-year tuition freeze, and one would make the budget process more available to students and staff. Despite the minimal effort required to meet these demands, board members refused to table either motion, and attempted to continue with the meeting agenda.

At this point, students disrupted the meeting, chanting “SFU: ENGAGE US” and “WE ARE SFU.” After discussing the importance of transparency, the chair adjourned the open session. Board members then left the room, leaving plates and half-eaten food around the table: yet another mess for others to clean up.

We want the administration and the community to know that we stand together against tuition increases, and students refuse to be divided between domestic and international, graduate or undergraduate. Tuition Freeze Now would like to thank the more than 2,000 students who signed our petition, the dozens of students who wrote letters to the Board of Governors, and the representatives of the SFU student societies who endorsed us (the SFSS and GSS). Tuition Freeze Now is connecting to community groups and students on other university campuses, building a province-wide movement to ensure affordable education for all.


Tuition Talk: Marina

Name: Marina 
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.

Tuition Talk: Jesse

Pseudonym: Jesse 

Level of study: 5th year PhD  

Why they support a tuition freeze: Living costs are too high. Paired with increasing tution and interest, students are forced to live close to the poverty line. 

Jesse: As a PhD student, I have been at SFU through huge changes in the Vancouver rental market. The cost of living is so high that I decided to work as a distance student while writing my thesis.

The university makes money and is reliant on highly qualified personnel such as TAs/TMs/Sessisonal Instructors, yet we are living under the poverty line. In addition to the tuition freeze, there should be a removal of interest on tuition. Every semester that I am not a TA, I end up paying interest on my tuition because I can’t afford it outright. I’m also faced with a decision about which debt to pay off: my credit card, or tuition?

“Give [professors] the money [TAs/TMs/ Sessionals] get, and see how far it goes.”

Professors live a life of privilege and are generally out of the loop when it comes to our cost of living. Give them the money we get and see how far it goes. Prospective graduate students should know about these negative yet true drawbacks. If I could go back in time I would not choose SFU again.