Increases in tuition fees have also been reported at Lakehead University, the University of Guelph and the University of Calgary, the latter of which increased tuition by 10% for new international students in January.
“When everyone all around the world is trying to help each other in every possible way, Western University decided to increase its fee for international students by approximately $4,000,” said student Kanvi Gupta, who has started an online petition to reverse the increases.
“Students are having to make a decision between supporting basic needs or paying tuition”
“Western charges international students approximately four times its domestic students, which would be considered doable during normal circumstances but not during these times.”
Speaking with local media, the university responded to the petition by noting that “Western monitors international tuition fees as compared to other Ontario universities” and that “all students are considered for admissions scholarships”.
Horeen Hassan, VP external at the Central Student Association at the University of Guelph – which has increased tuition for international undergraduates by between 10-15% – said that “many international students are heartbroken that an institution they love so much is putting such a financial burden on them”.
The co-president of the association, Lisa Kazuhara added that students are struggling to pay for basic necessities and that they are having to make a decision between “supporting basic needs or paying tuition”.
However, Canadian institutions are not the only ones upping their prices.
Although an Australian shake-up of fees for domestic students has not impacted international ones, more recently EU students learned that from next year onwards they will not be entitled to home fee status in England or Scotland and may have to pay international rates.
Meanwhile in France, the Council of State earlier this month decided in favour of fee increases for non-EU students from €170 to €2,770 a year for a bachelor’s degree and from €243 to €3,770 for a master’s, despite the Constitutional Court previously ruling that free access to education was a constitutional right.
At the time, the court concluded that a “modest” fee could be charged without defining exactly what that meant. The Council of State said that the increase did “not prevent equal access to education”.
“The sums of €2,770 and €3,770 are not at all modest. In fact, they represent several months of rent and food shopping,” read a statement from student representative organisation La Fédération des Associations Générales Etudiantes in response to the decision.
“As such, all of FAGE’s elected officials will continue to mobilise in the universities so that this measure is not implemented.”
Students in multiple countries have also filed lawsuits against their schools for tuition fee refunds.
In the US, South Carolina’s Anastopoulo Law Firm said it has filed more than 30 lawsuits against colleges and universities across the country. It has set up a website named College Refund 2020 specifically for student claims against institutions.
Similar cases are also ongoing in South Korea, where last month Konkuk University became the country’s first to agree to partial refunds of tuition fees.
In the UK, students have criticised their institutions for being given Amazon cards and book vouchers instead of compensation for lost teaching hours.
One international student in London told The PIE News that they, like many others, had complained to their university about lost lesson hours due to lecturer strikes earlier this year and asked for a partial refund.
The student was told that there would be no refund as the fees also went towards their access to the library and other on-campus amenities, not just teaching, and will now be paying full price to learn online from October.
The majority of institutions appear not to be offering fee reductions for online classes.
However, according to Richard Coward, CEO of China Admissions, some universities in China have been offering discounts.
The University of International Business and Economics is reportedly offering international students 20% off this semester, while Beijing Institute of Economic Management is waiving tuition for its Chinese program.
Faced with health risks and travel restrictions, the additional threat of increased fees has left some governments in traditional student markets preparing to accommodate those students in domestic institutions.
The Singapore Ministry of Education has announced it has made an additional 2,000 university places available for next year. It is also trying to facilitate transfers for students currently overseas.
“The AUs [autonomous universities] are prepared to take in as many of these transfer cases as they can accommodate – including for courses such as medicine – and subject to applicants meeting the admission criteria,” the MoE noted.