International student tuition up, down under new model

Those calling for changes not happy with new tuition model – some fees up, some down

table1TRU has changed how international students are charged tuition, leaving the flat-rate model which many claimed led to higher tuition fees. The new system, approved at a Sept. 25 Board of Governors meeting, will replace the current flat-rate model with a hybrid model that will combine flat-rate and per-credit billing. The new model is expected to come into effect in the fall of 2016.

The current system has all international undergraduate students at TRU paying $7,900 per semester, regardless of how many courses they are taking. According to TRU World’s Associate Vice President Baihua Chadwick, the new model will see a flat rate for up to twelve credits (four courses in most programs). Additional tuition will be collected from students who wish to take five or more courses.

“This model change will result in many students seeing a decrease in tuition, but some will see an increase,” Chadwick said. Chadwick does not anticipate a negative impact on international enrolment at TRU and said it would positively affect student retention.

The billing model change will also be tied to a tuition fee increase for international students. Chadwick said that the increase is due to inflation and an increase in faculty salaries. The increase is projected to be somewhere between six and nine per cent. In the past, changes to the tuition model have only affected incoming students, but this time, there will be no grace period. The lack of a grandfather clause is because of the possibility that it will result in lower tuition for many students Chadwick said.

Some programs will be exempt from the new billing model. Post Baccalaureate courses will retain the per-credit model they adopted last year. The summer semester will also be billed per credit and the engineering, law and trades programs will be billed differently due to their unique schedules and greater number of courses.

“The flat fee model encourages students to take more courses, even if their academic standing doesn’t support it,” Chadwick said. According to Chadwick, a tuition model which encourages students to take only four courses will allow students to work part-time and help them balance other aspects of their lives.

Although Chadwick spoke highly of the co-operation between TRU World and TRUSU, TRUSU’s international representative is not entirely satisfied with the new model.

“[We] think that it is a good start. We have been supportive of the per-credit model for a number of years. However, it is only fair that people pay for classes they actually take,” said TRUSU international student rep. Dana Prymak via email.

Prymak claims that the fee increase is a calculated move to make up budget shortfalls.

“On a personal level, this is wrong to charge international students as much as we are missing in the institutional budget. We do not support increase in international tuition fees … It will impact international enrollment and show how much the institution is over-reliant on international fee revenue,” she said.

“I do not anticipate that we would ever be able to come to agreement on this issue,” Prymak said.

Correction: This article originally misnamed TRUSU’s international rep. It has since been updated with the correct name. –Editor