The report aims to strengthen “international student recruitment and retention, support public priorities of economic growth, and meet the evolving needs of 21st-century postsecondary learners”.
One highlight the strategy sets out is how institutions will provide full program tuition transparency from the start of a program to the end in the offer letter to international students.
“Students win when there is more transparency”
Many higher education institutions in Ontario display fee details on their websites, but they are limited and do not tend to display the full cost of the course.
Gabriela Facchini, international business development and partnerships manager for Latin America and Europe at Sheridan College’s International Centre said the school publishes all its fees on its website.
Similar website practices are common in the province’s 24 public colleges, she added.
“What colleges do not provide and should, in my opinion, is fees for all years of study in advance,” she told The PIE News.
“Most colleges do not publish fees for the next academic year until February or March of the same year. At Sheridan, 2019-20 fees will not be ready till March 2019, giving students only a few months to prepare for any potential increase in fees.”
Not displaying the full program’s cost makes marketing and recruitment very difficult, she added.
“We can only tell them what the fees were for September 2018 and tell them that it is not likely to increase by more than 2%. We are telling students to purchase their education without knowing the exact price of their program.”
According to a spokesperson from Centennial College, the institution has displayed its international fees in online over the past 15 years.
They said the college feels it is best to give prospective students all the information at their fingertips, in part to encourage them to ask the same questions of other schools.
Will the new strategy from Ontario’s lawmakers make an impact?
“We do believe it has compelled other colleges to provide similar information for comparative purposes. Students win when there is more transparency, especially when enrolment decisions are made from afar,” Centennial told The PIE.
The strategy also states that the province will create opportunities for Ontarian students to study abroad by establishing scholarships to financially support domestic students who wish to study abroad.
Facchini added that the plan failed to address Ontario’s lack of trade-skill workers.
“The report focuses on PHDs and professional training but the province also needs trades people if it will succeed in filling the skill gap it currently has,” she explained.