Foreign students attending AVC pay unfair share for tuition costs

Published on February 19, 2016

UPEI Atlantic Veterinary College

International students at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown are becoming an increasingly important and perhaps victimized revenue source. The University of Prince Edward Island board of governors has approved a 22 per cent hike in tuition for new students this fall. An increase of that magnitude for Island or Canadian students would have caused an uproar, but it seems acceptable to gouge international students.

For comparison purposes, the 21 incoming international students accepted this fall will pay approximately $60,000 for tuition while an Atlantic student pays $12,015. Even by the most generous benchmarks, the difference seems excessive. The AVC defends the increases because those international students are supported through bursaries and government grants. But how does that justify such increases?  If the student can afford to pay, it’s acceptable to charge whatever the market will bear?

UPEI increasingly depends on international students to maintain enrolment numbers. UPEI is one of a few universities which has enjoyed an increased enrolment this year, largely because of growing numbers of international students, now approaching 20 per cent of the student population. And they pay a significantly higher tuition cost.

What’s next? Will an Island student have to present proof of family income to determine his or her tuition costs? That might sound extreme but consider the compelling arguments made last week in a commentary on student debt. The opinion piece was responding to suggestions that student debt isn’t the problem it once was.

That true because the cost of a university education is increasing to the point that only students from wealthy families can afford to attend. With fewer middle to lower income students considering a university education because of costs, of course overall student debt isn’t as worrisome.

Is personal or family wealth now the prerequisite to get a top-notch education? That should not be, or become, the deciding factor.

The costs facing international students smacks of the same unfair obstacles being thrown in the way of deserving P.E.I. students disqualified from earning a degree because they can’t afford tuition or refuse to go deep into deft to get a higher education. For cash-strapped university officials, it’s a case of simple economics. Yet, a year ago, the four Atlantic provinces signed a 10-year funding agreement to provide some long-term security for the vet college by locking in about $20 million per year from the provinces.

There really should be a higher principle in play.


UPEI’s team chemistry


If team chemistry could be bottled or packaged, many a hockey coach would become instant heroes. The reality is that a coach can only prepare a team to a certain point, and on-ice success often comes down to that elusive team chemistry.

It hasn’t been a stellar year for the UPEI Panthers men’s hockey team. The team fought hard to get into the playoffs. Team chemistry helped earn some big road wins when it counted down the stretch to nail down a playoff berth.

Finishing below .500 put UPEI in the unenviable position of facing one of Canada’s top teams in the first round of playoffs — the Acadia Axemen who were ranked No. 1 for several weeks in January.

The blue-collar Panthers don’t have any big stars. Several snipers are long gone with season-ending injuries. They grind and work every shift for every point they get. A team entering playoffs with no pressure and deserved low expectations from a loyal fan base is a dangerous club.

The Axemen found that out Wednesday, as the Panthers pulled off a 6-3 shocker in the opening game of a short, best-of-three AUS quarterfinal. It’s doubtful they took the Panthers lightly in game one because the teams were locked into four razor-thin battles all season.

Game two is tonight at MacLauchlan Arena where the Panthers have an opportunity to win a rare playoff series after a number of disappointing, lean years for the club. The series is far from over. The Axemen boast some of the top scorers in the conference and they are dangerous on every shift.

Wednesday night, the breaks and bounces went UPEI’s way — for a change. Hard work paid off. And team chemistry.