Several issues were raised at an open forum this past Friday where international students were able to voice their concerns and experiences with the university.
Themes generally included affordability and a lack of clarity and transparency when applying, in particular when transferring credits.
“When they raise the amount for postbac students, it was set at $5,000, but for us it was set it $6,900,” said Arjun Kadaleevanam, a business student. “We’re almost taking all the same courses, I don’t see why there’s the difference.”
In addition to the disparity in tuition fees for international and domestic students, the price of housing was brought up.
Nathan Lane, executive director of the Thompson Rivers University Student Union and host of the event has acknowledged that there is a lack of affordable housing around campus and around Kamloops more generally.
Despite TRU purchasing Upper College Heights over the Summer, there is still a need for more affordable options. In fact, Lane told the group that were 30 rooms that were not currently occupied at Upper College Heights right now due to unaffordability and that there are some students renting monthly hotel rooms in groups to save money.
“TRU is taking a lot of international students, but I don’t think they have the capacity to accommodate them,” Kandaleevanam said about the class size. “Either they should cap the students or introduce more professors or sessions.”
“I feel that domestic students can volunteer more, because they have to worry about funds less,” Idan Jacobs told The Omega. “I can’t tell you how many events I could not go to because I was at work. I can’t cancel my shift at work and attend. Maybe the person that did attend and volunteer will get the job eventually, but that won’t be me.”
Additionally, it’s notably more difficult for international students to receive a scholarship or bursary. When people donate money to the university, it is seldom done with international students in mind.
When it comes to curriculum, concerns about ESL courses were under the microscope. Many of the students talked about how the ESL courses are redundant and inconvenient for their timetable and others required classes.
Transferring credits from a foreign institution is a problem that TRUSU believed to be fixed, but experiences of some of the students seemed to suggest otherwise.
“It took a long time to get an answer,” Jacobs said. “They wanted proof that it was the exact same course and I could not do that.”
Students criticised the process for being slow and for being left in the dark and not updated on the progress from the university.
Other concerns that are more wide in scope that affect domestic students as well include the lack of size in the Wellness Centre and lack of a business building on campus.