More students from abroad

By Rasha Rehman and Noella Ovid

Ryerson enrols more international undergraduate students than ever before.

According to statistics obtained via Ryerson’s planning office, the fiscal year 2016 to 2017 had the highest undergraduate international student enrollment – 1,235 students compared to 621 students in 2010 to 2011. This is a 100 per cent increase in the last seven years.

Undergraduate programs in the Ted Rogers School of Management, along with engineering and architectural science, were the most popular programs.

“When you have capacity to attract more international students, we do that because I think it adds to the diversity of our student population,” said Mohamed Lachemi, president and vice-chancellor.

Graphic by Rasha Rehman.

Alexander Ferworn, professor and graduate program director, said graduate programs need improvement.

“Some countries produce exceptional graduate students which we’ve not been able to tap into,” said Ferworn. “So we need to bridge that gap somehow, which means additional investment in helping foreign students get here.”

He said that undergraduate programs like business management and mechanical engineering are popular, especially amongst international students, but don’t guarantee stable employment or opportunities. However, graduate programs in less popular fields, like computer science, widen a student’s employment opportunities.

On Jan. 16, the University of Toronto announced a new fee structure stating that most international PhD students will pay equivalent fees to domestic students, starting in the fall of 2018.  

“The new fee structure is a good move to attract international students. However, if you drill down to the details, it doesn’t really change a lot for international students,” said Naimul Khan, assistant professor at Ryerson, via email. “That means that this announcement only affects a handful of students.”

The U of T benefit doesn’t apply until the students’ fifth year of study. In the first four years, neither international nor domestic students pay tuition out of pocket, since it’s already covered by funding packages provided by the university.

“An international student mostly cares about the bottom line, i.e. how much money will be left for living cost after tuition. If we provide international graduate students with a letter stating that they are guaranteed the minimum living cost for four years after tuition (with clear numbers that show it), I think we will become even more competitive,” Khan said.

According to Lachemi, Ryerson does not get any funding for international student enrollment.

“International student fee is used to cover operation and instruction costs for university,” he said. “Their tuition fees are higher because we don’t get grants from the government.”

Statistics for this year (2017-2018) have not been revealed yet.

“International students bring knowledge from their home country that challenge all of us to think globally and in a larger scale,” said Arif Abu, co-ordinator, international student support. “As a graduate of Ryerson, your world should not be limited to Toronto or downtown Toronto.

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