International students pay much more for tuition than domestic students while working in Canada for a restricted number of hours.
The country is well-known among international students for its welcoming work and immigration policies following graduation. Although tuition fees in Canadian institutions are lower than those in American universities, the reality is grimmer for international students, who have had to contend with steep tuition increases in recent years.
The Canadian Federation of Students is urging the government to lift the 20-hour work cap for international students due to rising living costs as the country’s inflation rate reaches an all-time high in three decades, according to The PIE News.
As basic essentials become increasingly pricey, more foreign students are allegedly struggling to keep afloat.
“They come prepared to pay tuition fees but have little money for anything else and quickly end up in traumatic situations,” Neeraj Walia, director of the Guru Nanak Food Bank in Surrey, British Columbia, was quoted saying to New Canadian Media.
Walia has noticed an alarming increase in the number of international students from the greater Vancouver region requiring free supplies from the food bank.
“Approximately 1,500 of the 2,200 kids we see here are international students….they come from everywhere: India, Pakistan, South America, China, and even European countries,” he continued.
Nicolas Avendano, a Colombian-born international student in Toronto, lives a modest lifestyle, but even with a part-time job in the fast-food business, decreasing costs isn’t enough.
“There are times when I just say, ‘Maybe I won’t go out, because I don’t have money for that,’” the student told CBC News. “[Education] shouldn’t just be a thing that you can access because you have the money or the economic standing in order to achieve.”
International students not only have limited working hours in Canada, but they are also ineligible for crucial employment programs such as Canada Summer Jobs, which match their abilities with full-time summer jobs. Because businesses prefer Canadian-born individuals, overseas students are frequently overlooked in the hiring process.
Among some, the trade-off does not seem fair, given that international students in Canada spent $22.3 billion Canadian dollars in 2018.
“I feel like international students are treated like cash cows, and it’s just not fair to us since we’re also just trying to obtain an education,” Gaayathri Murugan told CBC News. “[Education] shouldn’t just be a thing that you can access because you have the money or the economic standing in order to achieve.”
Not only do overseas students have restricted working hours in Canada, but they are also ineligible for crucial employment programs such as Canada Summer Jobs, which match their abilities with full-time jobs during the summer.
International students are regularly overlooked in the recruitment process because firms prefer Canadian-born individuals. For some, the trade-off does not seem fair, given that international students in Canada spent 22.3 billion Canadian dollars in 2018.
“I truly feel like international students are treated like cash cows, and it’s just not fair to us since we’re also just trying to get an education,” Gaayathri Murugan told CBC News.
The Indian student observed that most of her Canadian peers were unaware of her financial hardship, which included taking out a loan from her native country and working many part-time jobs while attending Memorial University.
Increasing working hours for students like Murugan in Canada, on the other hand, is a band-aid solution to a much larger and long-standing problem in the country’s higher education system.
As per a 2017 poll conducted by the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA), up to 55% of international students find it challenging to pay tuition each semester. The average foreign student fee in Canada has steadily climbed from CA$25,549 to CA$33,623 between 2017-18 and the 2021-22 academic year.
The minimum hourly wage in Canada varies by province and ranges from CA$11 to CA$16. The economic toll on overseas students casts doubt on Canada’s promise as a ticket to better prospects via the study-to-immigration route.
“When they come here to study, they are not prepared for growing costs, COVID, or any other issue that hits them,” Walia said, adding that he is considering organizing international student orientation programs in important source countries to help students acclimatize to life in Canada.
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