Ryerson can’t support federal international student target, says Levy

The International Student Services Centre on campus (Meaghan Yuen/Ryersonian Staff).

The International Student Services Centre on campus (Meaghan Yuen/Ryersonian Staff).

In a move to boost Canada’s brand as an education destination, the federal government is making plans to see the number of international students almost double in less than 10 years.

But Sheldon Levy said increasing the number of international students could displace Canadian applicants in Ryerson’s case.

“Even though it might be the fiscally smart thing to do for the university, it also has a consequence,” he said, noting that because of Ryerson’s limited space, to accept more international students would mean denying Canadian applicants.

Ryerson admits about 6,500 international students every year and receives more than 10 times as many applications, according to Levy.

Helen Murphy, spokeswoman at the Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada, said although it might not be the case at Ryerson and other schools in major cities, there is enough enrollment space across Canada to admit 450,000 international students by 2022.

Levy, however, stands firm on maintaining access for Canadian students. “There’s limited enrollment in every single one of our programs,” Levy said. “It just seems wrong to say no domestic students, whose families pay taxes, that we’ll displace you because there’s someone who will pay more money.”

International undergraduates pay about $20,000 a year in tuition alone, almost three times more than Canadian students. On top of tuition, international students can pay up to $24,000 for everything from university health insurance and course textbooks to residence, according to the Ryerson undergraduate admissions website.

But Diana Ning, coordinator at Ryerson’s International Student Services, said more money for the university isn’t the only benefit of integrating more students from outside the country.

“International students promote diversity, cross-cultural understanding and academic program and research development on campus,” she said.

These students have the potential to become brand ambassadors, “enhancing Canada’s global position in higher education” while improving Canada’s image as an “education brand,” according to the federal strategy.

Levy says increasing capacities for each program to accommodate more international students is something that would be discussed with program chairs and the government.  But if it means jeopardizing the quality of learning opportunities, as far as he’s concerned, “the answer is no.”

Accepting more international students at Ryerson requires not only more enrollment space, but more space on campus.

“For us to increase in international students, we’d have to work with the province because the federal government doesn’t provide the operating or the capital (funds) to make that happen,” he said.

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