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REF NO.: 78

SUBJECT: Memorial University's Board of Regents approves tuition increase to improve services for international students

DATE: Feb. 7

At its meeting on Feb. 6, Memorial University's governing Board of Regents approved an increase in international undergraduate student tuition fees starting in fall 2003. The increase will fund academic offerings, enhanced support services and financial aid for international students. Memorial University has slightly more than 200 students from countries outside Canada enrolled in undergraduate programs and intends to raise this number to 1,200 by 2005.

In its deliberations on the issue, the board reviewed reports from the university administration, students and consultative meetings. In addition, Board of Regents Chairman Chris Decker and university officials met to discuss the issue with Gilbert Salam, president of the Memorial University Students Union, and other student leaders.

Some students had expressed concerns over the fee increase. Memorial University President Axel Meisen accepted a student petition against the fee proposal and a position paper from the student union; both were shared with the Board of Regents. "The information provided by the students was interesting and useful - especially their suggestions for new support services," Dr. Meisen said. "After careful consideration, the board approved increased fees for new and currently enrolled international students, effective September 2003."

When the fee increase takes effect, new international students entering Memorial will pay $800 per three-credit-hour course, or $8,000 per year (based on 10 three-credit-hour courses over two semesters). In the following year the fees will increase by 10 per cent, bringing the international undergrad tuition fee to $880 per course, or $8,800 per year.

International undergrads currently enrolled at Memorial will be charged $7,260 per year, a 10 per cent increase. A further increase of 10 per cent each year will apply for the remainder of their academic programs, or until August 2006, whichever comes first.

"Even with the new fee increases for international students, Memorial's tuition will remain one of the least expensive in Canada," said President Meisen.

Dr. Meisen indicated that the board's decision on fees was a timely one as the university is actively recruiting internationally and has an application deadline of March 1. "We know that prospective international students need to know the level of fees that Memorial will be charging and they recognize that our fees are highly competitive," said Dr. Meisen, who has participated in several international recruitment visits.

The decision to raise tuition fees comes after the university analyzed its costs to educate international undergraduate students and in the wake of its decision to step up recruitment activities abroad. Dr. Evan Simpson, vice-president (academic), is responsible for the university's academic programs and student recruitment efforts.

"Memorial intends to expand its international undergrad population in order to increase the diversity of the student body and to help maintain the overall size of the university's enrollment," Dr. Simpson said. "A more diverse student body will produce a richer learning environment for all students. An increased number of international students will compensate for the declining population of potential university students in Newfoundland and Labrador, thereby allowing Memorial to continue to offer its wide range of courses and programs."

Dr. Simpson said the new fees will help the university fund additional course sections in high-demand areas, enhanced support services and a new financial aid program for international students. He explained that international students frequently have need for programs such as language training, housing assistance, specialized counseling and academic advising, and financial support which the higher fee will make possible. In addition, attracting international students imposes extra costs on the university, such as international recruitment efforts. "We want to provide international students with a broad range of services and programs that will encourage them to choose Memorial and then to be successful here," he said.

Dr. Simpson noted that over the past weeks consultations had taken place with international students about the types of services and financial aid that are needed and that he hopes to continue this collaborative work. "We will continue our consultations with international students and gain their insights in how to best enhance their experience at Memorial. A portion of the increased fees will be earmarked to cover costs of services for international students and, for the first time at Memorial, to provide financial aid, scholarships and bursaries for non-Canadian students," Dr. Simpson said.

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