TRU floats 5% increase to international tuition as part of three-year plan

TRU eyes int'l tuition hike

Another five per cent increase in international tuition rates will be presented to Thompson Rivers University’s board of governors for the next academic year as part of a three-year tuition plan.

The proposal follows a 6.9 per cent increase to international tuition last February, which the university’s administration says is also part of the plan.

Baihua Chadwick, TRU’s vice-president international, said the initial proposal last year was a 10 per cent increase, which changed after student pushback.

“The initial proposal was a 10 per cent increase in order to keep pace with investments the institution has done in order to provide opportunity and education for our international students,” Chadwick said.

“Students voiced their concern about a 10 per cent increase would seriously jeopardize their affordability, I suppose, and so we went back to the drawing board with the inflationary increase only."

The three-year plan, which was approved by the board last year, sees the board of governors approving an increase each year based on the average consumer price index in B.C. over the previous 12 months.

Student elected governor and international student Shariyer Chowdhury questioned the increase, saying a nearly 12 per cent hike in about a year’s time would put pressure on foreign students.

Matt Milovick, TRU’s vice-president of administration and finance, said the plan is committed to an inflationary increase each year to keep pace with the university’s expenses.

“There's no question that our current financial environment has put pressure on all segments of our community, both domestic and international students,” he said,

“If we want to keep pace with our costs, then we have to continue to do these increases and where we can make things affordable for students we do it.”

The eventual goal of the plan is to implement a guaranteed-fee model by 2026, which would see tuition remaining at a fixed rate for a student’s entire duration in a program.

“In Year 1, you're going to pay that same price for everything for the next number of years,” said Milovick.

“It’s my understanding that that's the preferred approach by our provincial government because they want certainty for international students.”

In a comparison to other B.C. universities, tuition for a full-time international student in the fall and winter 2023-24 semesters was cheaper than any other research university, according to Milovick.

He said international tuition in B.C. has increased by 25 per cent on average since 2018-19 and 27 per cent among other research universities, while TRU has seen a 22 per cent increase over the same period.

“We are modest in our international fees as part of RUCBC certainly, and generally across British Columbia,” said Gillian Balfour, TRU provost and vice-president academic.

“But obviously we want to balance that increase level off with making sure that we become the university of choice amongst our international students.”

A two per cent increase to domestic student tuition will also be proposed to the board.

According to TRU’s administration, a two per cent increase to domestic tuition is the maximum allowed per annum by the provincial government, and to their knowledge every university in B.C. increases their fees by the maximum permissible amount.

The proposed tuition increases will be brought to the board at an upcoming meeting.

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