International Education: Costs vs Benefits

Jan 10, 2020
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Canada is facing a challenge against Higher Education giants like the US and the UK to capture more international students. Even students have refrained from coming to Australia in recent times. This is due to the high cost of living and tuition fees in Australia presently. So, international education has got its own merits and demerits. But the question is, what do these students get once they go there?

The tuition fees at international study destinations is costing an arm and a leg now. So, many students are going to unprecedented lengths to pay for their education. Jobandeep Sandhu is such a student who’s now facing deportation from Canada. This is because he worked over the number of hours allowed by his visa. Sandhu says that he had to do this due to the high tuition and living expenses for him and his brother.

Study in Canada

Many international students like Sandhu are facing a stumbling block when it comes to paying their bills. With Sandhu’s case gaining more recognition in the community, many advocates have voiced their concerns about the need to create more favorable conditions for international students who are looking to work. If Canadian authorities really work to create these supportive conditions, it can truly help Canada’s attempt to attract more international students over the US and the UK. This could also compliment other policies that Canada has placed to attract more foreign students such as the programs to get a work visa after graduation or receive permanent residency.

However, despite these loosened rules, many students say that the visa process could use some improvements. Sometimes, it could take more than 5 months to process a student visa. This means students are waiting idly not knowing when they can start university. 

The Number Crunch

When it comes to international students, most of their decisions ultimately depend on the cost. Yes, there are undeniable benefits like the high quality of education and culture, but nothing beats the importance of money! 

Keeping this in mind, it’s important to note that an international student in Canada pays nearly four times more than a local student. The tuition rates for international students have risen by a staggering 32%, but only increased by 14% for local students over the past few years.  This could be the reason why Canada dropped two spots as the destination for international students. But this is not just in Canada. For instance, in San Diego international students (which accounts for nearly 20% of their student body) pay three times more than US students.

Although Australia is well-renowned for its world class universities, yet it also popular for its high expenses. The tuition fees will vary as per where you stay and what degree you study. The average tuition fee for international undergraduate student was AUD 30,840 per year in 2018 and AUD 31,596 for international postgraduates. The fees is quite less for domestic students, especially those who can apply for a Commonwealth supported place.

Is it worth the money ?

Despite the increase in tuition fees, there has been little to no drop in the number of international students coming to Canada. Some students say that it’s the expectation of a high-quality international education and the multicultural experience that Canada promises what makes them foot the bill of these exorbitant tuition fees. For other students it’s because there are opportunities available in Canada for their field of study that are not available in their home country.

Even with the high costs, many students say that their time in Canada was more than the education. They say that it was the “experience” that made it worthwhile.

The universities in Australia also need to understand the student experience in a holistic fashion. Mostly, every institution is focusing on marketing its global rankings and reputation amongst employers. These are definitely crucial for students. But, more than half of the students coming from South Asia cannot actually afford that fees. 

Higher Education in US

Therefore, many of the institutions have tried to provide partial or full tuition fees scholarships. It has somewhat eased off the situation for some of the students. But, the living expenses are also considerably huge in cities like Sydney. The students here need to work really hard every week on a part-time basis along with their studies. This adds an additional burden on them. 

Is there enough value for huge money spent?

Canada currently hosts over 500,000 international students. According to Canada’s Ministry of Global Affairs, international students have spent an estimated $ 11.4 billion in 2014. Since then the number of international students in Canada have grown by over 75%. Although the numbers for Canada looks good, Dani Zaretsky, an expert in international student recruitment says that Universities have failed to match their services and facilities to the increase in tuition fees. Dani further says that if Canada wants to attract more international students, they will have to be careful about how much and how often they increase tuition fees every year. 

What we think?

Governments need to understand that international students are an important source of revenue. They should not try to milk out all the students who choose to come there. But, they should focus more on providing affordable rates and more value for money so that they can attract more students.

The concept of stagnation is visible everywhere. This is now being witnessed in Australia where the government is providing with less permanent visa grants every year. It is mainly because of a tremendous growth in the number of international students. Now, Canada is inviting 1 million immigrants in the coming year. But, there would be a similar stagnation there as well after 2-3 years. And then , the International students might well consider affordable countries in Europe like the Scandinavian nations for pursuing higher education. The Nordic countries are also doing great in terms of Happiness Index and Innovation Index, though having a relatively smaller market.