In 2018 the Quebec government stopped funding international students in most programs and levels of study (with a few exceptions)*¹. Now, universities are free to charge international students as much as they want!¹ Concordia’s Board of Governors will soon decide how much to increase tuition, but together, we can stop the hikes!
Since 2008 the provincial government has been slowly deregulating international tuition program by program.² This represents yet another nail in the coffin of accessible education; by completely privatizing education for all international students, they are making sure that only those who are already wealthy can access higher education. Their strategy is to divide and conquer, so we need to stand united and fight regardless of our individual backgrounds and circumstances.
You can get involved in the campaign to stop the hikes. There is a long tradition of fighting—and stopping—tuition hikes in Quebec.³ In 2016 the Concordia Board of Governors tried to increase tuition for certain international students.⁴ By actively voicing our opposition, students succeeded in stopping the hikes then, and we’ll do it again!
✅ International students in Québec contribute significantly to the provincial and federal economies.⁵ They do pay taxes, both as consumers (QST and GST) and as future residents (51-60% of international students in Canada plan to apply for permanent residency⁶). They also pay income taxes, because all Canadian jobs are taxable.⁷ Quebec international students collectively generated $1.5 billion in tax revenue in 2014!⁸ Despite the fact that international students pay taxes as well as make meaningful academic, cultural, scientific, artistic, political, and other contributions during their stay here, they are being treated like cash cows.
✅ This is a harmful stereotype. Many international students report difficulties in finding part-time jobs, and financial aid is not always sufficient to cover basic living costs.⁹ A 2018 study reported that 37-46% of international students feel “very concerned” about their ability to afford housing, and this is particularly true for racialized international students.¹⁰
✅ Canada is actually on the expensive side compared to many other countries. For example, the average cost of international tuition in Europe is about $12,997/year¹¹ compared to $19,802/year on average at Concordia. In any case, it shouldn’t matter whether it’s more or less expensive to study here than to study elsewhere. The cost of tuition is making higher education less accessible for many people, and that’s unacceptable!
This has resulted in the university…
Why should international students have to foot the bill for Concordia’s mistakes?
International students are required to have health insurance by law in order to be permitted into Canada on a study permit. In five provinces, they are able to enrol in the provincial medicare system directly, but in Quebec, most international students buy health insurance through their universities.** ¹⁷
The national average price for a single 12-month plan is $761.88, and the median price is $650.¹⁸ Concordia is the most expensive at $1,176,¹⁹ and it doesn’t even cover dental care or vision care.²⁰ What’s more is that the cost of the premium increases have been rising significantly faster than the rate of inflation.
Although international student health plans are managed by student unions at many Canadian universities, at Concordia it is managed by the University directly. The CSU strongly believes that we can offer international students a plan that is cheaper, more comprehensive, and more accountable to the students that pay into it.
The gold standard remains full provincial RAMQ coverage for all international students. But, until the government of Quebec chooses to base its health care system on RAMQ cards instead of credit cards, Concordia must take action to make its plan affordable.
International health insurance can be more affordable and more comprehensive. We demand that Concordia give negotiation power for the international health plan to the CSU and GSA.