The University of Manitoba faculty of graduate studies has reduced the tuition fees for international PhD students beginning in the 2020-21 academic year.
Deputy provost of academic planning and programs Todd Mondor — who was the dean of graduate studies before taking his current position — said the change had been planned for at least two years.
The decrease is intended to replace the granting of the International Graduate Student Scholarship (IGSS) and International Graduate Student Entrance Scholarship (IGSES). Previously, students with a GPA of 3.5 or higher automatically qualified for the IGSES with no application necessary. Mondor estimated that a little over 80 per cent of international PhD applicants were receiving at least one of the scholarships.
“The scholarships were meant to compensate the international students for the higher tuition that they would pay,” he said.
While undergraduate tuition varies depending on faculty and course load, graduate students pay a base program fee per term — with a few exceptions — for a set number of years, then a continuing fee for any years that follow.
Master’s students pay the program fee their first year, while PhD students usually pay the program fee for two years.
“Domestic and international graduate students pay the same continuing fee, and they have for a long time,” Mondor explained.
“So, that’s not changed. But on paper, international graduate students are charged about double the program fee for every year they pay the program fee.”
Prior to the fee decrease, international PhD students were charged $5,662.56 in program fees per term — more than twice the $2,573.86 rate for their domestic counterparts.
“We were nominally, on the surface, charging these students higher tuition, a higher program fee, but then they’d get a scholarship that compensated them for that,” Mondor said.
“Most international students are paying the same as domestic students already at the U of M and have been for a long time.
“Why not just get rid of the scholarship and charge the students the same rates right off the bat?”
He also discussed the university’s strategic enrolment plan, which hopes to attract more graduate students and more PhD students in particular.
“We want to get more PhD students here — they really contribute enormously to the research activities of faculty members that they work with,” he said.
“They really are a great benefit to the university.”
Mondor referenced the national movement to reduce international student tuition rates, but said that with the COVID-19 pandemic causing budget cuts for education, there is no plan currently in place to reduce tuition for international master’s students as well.
“That’s something we might come back to at some point.”
The registrar’s office website, though not yet reflecting the new rates, is expected to be updated over the summer.