TRU Board of Governors approves 5% international tuition increase

TRUSU reacts: It's disappointing to see the results of this decision

Following a decision from the university on Feb. 23, international students will pay a heftier sum next time they make tuition payments.

Following a vote during their Feb. 23 meeting, the Board of Governors approved a motion to increase international student tuition by five per cent. This decision came despite continued opposition from TRU’s student union, which called for the university to cap the increase at two per cent.

“We are disappointed by this decision because we believe the Board of Governors could have chosen differently to better support our international student community,”  TRUSU President Jannat Bhullar said. “The union believes that the domestic student fees increase should align with the international student fees increase.”

Domestic students saw an increase of two per cent — the maximum the British Columbia provincial government allowed. 

TRU President Brett Fairbairn addressed this during the Feb. 26 Senate meeting.

“We set international fees according to a basket of factors we analyze, which include cost escalations [and] comparability with other institutions in BC,” Fairbairn said. “The Board of Governors approved on [Feb. 23] a five per cent increase [in international student fees], as has been planned for some time.”

In a post on the student union website, TRUSU International students’ representative Anika Joyner, echoed Bhullar’s disappointment.

“It’s disappointing to see the results of this decision, particularly because TRU decided to increase fees by 5% rather than the inflation rate for 2023, which was published at 3.9%,” Joyner said.

Bhullar, also an international student, said that this decision has been causing concern among some international students.

“International students, being a vulnerable group, are impacted by inflation too. So a five per cent [increase] was a difficult amount for the students to cope with,” Bhullar said.

TRU is working on a new framework that would standardize future fee increases.

“TRU continues to work towards introducing our guaranteed fee model,” Fairbairn said on the framework during the senate meeting. “[It] would involve guaranteeing for each incoming international student a rate of fees that would remain unchanged over the four or five years that they would be at TRU.”

Fairbairn said that the aim of this is to reduce uncertainty for affected students. Bhullar assured the Omega that TRUSU would continue to advocate for lower increases in the meantime.

“Until and if that model is presented, we are trying to [prevent] an unreasonable increase in international tuition fees,” Bhullar said.

TRU’s decision follows a federal government announcement in January to cap international student permits. According to that announcement, permits issued nationally are expected to decrease by 35 percent in 2024 compared to 2023.

TRU’s 2022-23 factbook said that 6,678 (24 per cent) of its 27,632 students are international. Until a guaranteed fee model is introduced, all currently enrolled international students may feel the effects of this increase.