Report calls for Ryerson administration to lower tuition

Students rally to lower tuition fees at a Ryerson Students' Union Freeze the Fees events.  (Marija Petrovic, Ryersonian Staff)

Students rally to lower tuition fees at a Ryerson Students’ Union Freeze the Fees events. (Marija Petrovic, Ryersonian Staff)

A new report released by the Task Force on Graduate Education calls on Ryerson’s           administration to introduce a scholarship to bridge the gap between domestic and international student’s tuition.

The 13-paged report titled, “Recommendations of the Task Force on Graduate Education Administration and Delivery,” was submitted this fall and overseen by Ryerson’s provost and vice-president academic Mohamed Lachemi, who established the task force in January to examine graduate student matters.

The exact recommendation states the school should “effectively reduce the tuition fees for international students through… offering every international PhD student an additional scholarship equal to the difference between the international and domestic tuition fees… ” The recommendation also says a similar formula can be used, but at a reduced rate, and can be applied to international Master’s students.

This is the first report from the committee that seeks to examine whether the policies set in place for graduate studies in the last decade are suitable for future growth.

The group has a total of nine members that are made up of graduate professors, deans and two students, including molecular science PhD student Ali Naqvi

The report will be reviewed by the Yeates School of Graduate Studies and a proposal will be made to seek review by the senate, said Naqvi.

Naqvi says the goal of the recommendation is to recognize “international students are an integral part of the graduate community and that they are tax paying members of the Canadian economy (therefore) it doesn’t make sense that their fees are exorbitantly high.”

Currently, Ryerson graduate programs can cost up to three to four times more than what domestic students pay for the same degree.

Though the recommendation won’t lead to immediate change, it marks the start of a sought-after formal discussion with Ryerson policy makers about the issue.

Syed Mohammad Mahmood, who is in the final year of his undergraduate degree in industrial engineering, says there’s a common misconception about international students like himself.

“People think most internationals are very rich,” he said. “They joke that you’re able to come abroad because your dad has an oil field.”

Mahmood says he was only able to come to Ryerson because his parents made a lot of sacrifices in their lives and that “they don’t live lavish lives back home.”

While comparing resumes with his peers, Mahmood says he realized he had less scholarship awards to show for because many scholarships required candidates to be Canadian citizens.

“I think awards should be about merit, not Canadian status,” he said,

International tuition fees for graduate programs are available on Ryerson’s website but Ryerson Student’s Union vice-president of education Jesse Root says an awareness of high tuition fees doesn’t make it OK.

“The fact of the matter is the university is using international students as cash cows to pad their budget, which is something we’re not supportive of,” he said.

Although Root was not involved with the preparation of the report, he says he supports it.

“They pay more than domestic students because they’re unregulated by the province and therefore institutions can set tuition fees however high they want, which is problematic. Why are we regulating domestic fees but not international fees? That doesn’t make any sense.”

Other notable recommendations made in the report includes research assistant opportunities and encourage faculty to consider graduate matters in the same way it considers undergraduate matters.

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