After Ontario international student arrested, Manitoba students talk about stresses
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Victoria Nwabuisi is the University of Manitoba Students’ Union international students’ representative. She moved to Canada four years ago from Nigeria.
“When you get here you have no friends, no family, you’re shy of all the resources that are available to support you.
“There’s also the popular misconception that international students are super wealthy because they can pay $20,000 in tuition,” she said.
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International students come from a range of financial backgrounds, but the super wealthy paint an unrealistic picture of what an average international student looks like, she added.
“They come here and they buy fancy cars and all of a sudden the entire community at large thinks ‘oh international students are driving Benz’, but which international students are we talking about?”
“There was semesters where I had four jobs. I would work two or three jobs on campus, one off-campus and I’m always running from one place to the other trying to make ends meet.”
Solaiman Mozumder is a student at the University of Manitoba studying anthropology. He moved here from Bangladesh.
He works part-time at a pizza shop and gets some financial support from his family back home to pay bills.
“They have monumental expectations on you because you’re going abroad and your parents are supporting you. So it’s not your money, so when you get out of school they expect you to make $100,000 right off the bat so it’s a lot of pressure,” he said.
“The misconception arises when the wealthy ones start showing off and they become the norm to Canadians. And they’re like ‘oh they’re international students, they have tons of money.’ And that’s when those rumours start spreading.”
International students are typically paying thousands of dollars more to study here.
At the University of Winnipeg, local students are paying about $3,952 per year in tuition while international students are paying $15,185.
At the University of Manitoba, Canadian students have to pay about $4,700 while international students shell out about $16,000 for the year.
Sarah Bonner-Proulx, VP Advocacy for UMSU, says because they’re paying such high tuition fees, many people think international students are extremely wealthy.
“Most of the students aren’t coming from a background where they have a lot of money. We do see this coming up when we see students accessing the hardship fund, students accessing aid and accessing the food bank,” she said.
Bonner-Proulx said international students make up about 19 per cent of the student body at the U of M.
“They are a huge asset to both the province and to our campus. We see the academic, the cultural, the economic benefits they provide us,” she said.
However, Bonner-Proulx said the number of foreign students choosing Manitoba could drop due to rising costs.
“When we see the increasing trend of increasing tuition, cutting of health care, and just overall, the expenses that are associated with being an international student here in Manitoba, we are probably going to see less international students wanting to come to Manitoba to study.”
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Statistics from the province show a 746 per cent increase of international students from 2000/2001 to 2017/2018.
According to Gary Gervais, from the Manitoba Council for International Education, international students spent nearly $375 million in tuition, living expenses and tourism in Manitoba in 2016. From 2010 to 2016, the increase in spending by students and their families rose 143 per cent.
“Those students are coming here to study but they’re bringing foreign currency in terms of their living costs, their tuition costs and any kind of money they’re spending here is foreign money coming here into the province,” he said.
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