International students at CBU want tuition rebate for fall semester

Some international students at Cape Breton University are calling for lower tuition, now that the university has as announced all fall classes will be online only.

There's hardly a soul on campus these days at the university, but the school's decision to conduct its fall semester online has created a lot of buzz around town.

Emily Li is a Chinese student planning to sign up for her third year at CBU.

While she understands the reason for going virtual, she begrudges the thought of having to pay full price.

"We pay a lot more than Canadian students here," Li said. "So, I think it's pretty unfair for us to still pay the same amount of money, especially right now."

International students have to pay differential fees which add a considerable cost to their education.

Some students worry the quality of their education will suffer, and so will their grades.

Others, like Marina Mathew of India, say they'll be missing out on hands-on learning opportunities crucial to their programs.

"For the university, there is not going to be any typical costs which is related to actual classes," Mathew said. "So, if that is not happening, the university should not be charging students (the) actual amount."

If not for the pandemic, more than a thousand international students would be filling the halls again in September.

Instead, residences will be mostly empty.

The students' union president says while he understands the move online was made for health and safety, some students from abroad have already left to find work elsewhere and might be gone for good.

"There might be some students who might not get a job, and may not have the money to pay their fees and probably might not come back to school for fall," said Amrinder Singh.

Others point out the impact international students have on the local economy.

"Most businesses are concerned about having employees," said Kathleen Yurchesyn of the Sydney and Area Chamber of Commerce. "They rely so heavily on these students to fill these positions."

Nobody from CBU was available for an interview on Wednesday,but a spokesperson told CTV News last week a decision on fall tuition would be part of ongoing budget talks.