Gauging perception of student tuition fees among the general population, the survey included responses from 1306 Ontarians.
It found that 32% strongly supported and 53% somewhat supported a new regulated framework for tuition fees for both domestic and international students. Only 3% strongly opposed it. Within the sample, current HE students were more likely to support it.
“I think all institutions would oppose it”
Domestic fees are regulated in Ontario and earlier this year the provincial government announced a 10% cut. However, international tuition fees are not regulated.
“Because they don’t have a cap on the amount they can charge to international students, we saw some institutions increase international fees,” Felipe Nagata, chairperson of CFS Ontario told The PIE News.
“Many institutions are using international fees to make up for the loss of revenue. But it’s really hard for international students who start their first year on a certain amount of tuition and then move on and their tuition increases.”
But Sheridan College’s Gabriela Facchini told The PIE that a reduction in international fees would cut services for all and that virtually all institutions would oppose it.
“I think all institutions would oppose it. International fees help to subsidise many services for all students including domestic students so a reduction in fees would affect all students,” she said.
“I would hope that international fees continue to be managed by institutions and not the government. Competitiveness regulates the fees as institutions must maintain fees reasonable to remain competitive.”
The survey unearthed another positive finding for international students: eight in 10 Ontarians, and almost nine in 10 current students, supported the idea of them staying and working after graduation, while 6% strongly opposed it.
This didn’t come as a surprise for Facchini.
“Strong support makes sense to me as Ontario needs the specialisation of college graduates. There is a shortage of skilled workers in the province and employers are looking to new graduates to fill skilled positions,” she said.
For Nagata, the results show that people are well aware of the economic contribution international students make.
“International students contribute to the economy when they come here to study, so I think people want to support international students to contribute to the economy further after they graduate as well,” he said.