The recently announced University of Regina budget introduced a bundling program for international students, which will allow for a freeze in their tuition and fees at first-year level, as well as discounts on offerings like campus housing.
International students pay up to three times more in tuition than domestic students, an issue that the Students’ Union rallied against earlier this year. With the International Students Caucus, fellow students, and our supporters in the community and the Provincial legislature, we demanded that the University freeze the fees and address the tuition disparity between domestic and international students. The new tuition packaging is a welcome sign but we will see if it is of benefit to the students or merely a different way to charge for the same lack of service and ineffective support.
“As the chair of the International Students Caucus and one of the lead organizers of our ‘Freeze The Fees’ campaign that launched in February 2022, I am pleased that our call for more financial relief for international students has led to the creation of this new program that freezes tuition for a portion of incoming international students,” said Harshkumar Patel, URSU VP of Student Affairs. “I hope that this is a first step in lowering tuition fees for all students – both international and domestic.”
The bundling program will feature a discount in the residence fees for international students when they purchase an all-inclusive package that also includes a meal plan, and a Campus Store account. Students can qualify for the bundles depending on their program and the type of housing selected. The bundles are only available if one meets certain stipulations, which is a practice not in line with our goals of access for all and education for everyone. As housing is a consideration for the discounts, students may still have to pay above market rental fees to be eligible and they may already be paying more than average if they are pursuing a degree with higher associated fees.
The cost of living continues to increase and there is a lack of affordable housing in Regina and our fear is that these discounted tuition rates and fee freezes will only be available to those living on campus, where rent is comparatively higher. If the bundles are only open to those in the faculties that generate money for the University then it is selective support and does not encourage students to pursue other ‘less-profitable’ programs.
URSU and our allies will continue to campaign for a freeze to all fees and tuition increases so that all students can afford to achieve their academic goals. In the meantime, those students that are struggling to make ends meet can find support from one of our free services like our Pantry and Community Fridge , which have free food for our members, and they can apply for our Emergency Bursary. We also offer a discounted transit pass for students of the University of Regina and its Federated Colleges. For more information on other ways we support students, please visit ursu.ca or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to help our members and we want to hear from students about hardships they are facing, so please email email@example.com to speak with us–your elected student representatives.
URSU, in our commitment to student-led mobilization, will be reaching out to our allies this summer at URFA, the faculty association at the U of R, as well as to the CUPE locals on campus and our campus community partners, which include UR Pride Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity and RPIRG (Regina Public Interest and Research Group) in an effort to launch a campus coalition in September 2022. It is our hope that this coalition will provide a space for students, staff, faculty, and community members on campus to work together to fight for our rights, such as the lowering of tuition fees.
From the Executive Committee of the University of Regina Students’ Union