I recently read one of Alex Usher’s blog posts about the threat to internationalization in Western universities posed by the Chinese government’s crackdown on internationalization in their curriculum and high school programs. Usher argued that to combat this, we need to start attracting Chinese students at an earlier age, and we need to put them through Canadian high schools. To do so, we would need to set up shared living accommodations and support personnel to help these students be successful.
I thought he made some great points, but I couldn’t get around the fact that I don’t think Canadian, or at least Ontarian society values international students enough to make this investment. International students offer an enriching voice to Canadian classrooms, benefitting all learners and the broader community while they are here. They contribute a unique perspective, they invest in their communities, and they can help challenge our assumptions.
But if universities’ treatment of international students is any indication, they are more valuable for their money than the diverse voices they add to our classrooms. How can universities champion this rhetoric of internationalization, publishing “Comprehensive International Plans” while international students are treated like cash cows? Completely unregulated international tuition speaks to the fact that it isn’t just universities that are thinking like this, but also the Ontario government.
Universities are milking international students for all they’re worth and in the process, they are losing a true diversity of voices as access to our universities comes with a price tag few families abroad can afford. The lack of predictability in their fees because of their complete deregulation hugely limits the types of families that can afford to send their students to our universities. While the average international tuition in Canada may be competitive with other countries, that fails to justify the astronomical costs these students face.
Either stop falsely preaching internationalization or live up to this rhetoric and regulate international tuition to make it more financially accessible for a diversity of families.