One of the toughest barriers is one that universities have control over: Classifying refugee claimants as international students who must pay fees over five times what they might pay if classified as domestic students.
Guidelines issued by the BC Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training describe allowable exceptions to international student classification, including explicitly that “…refugee claimants who have yet to be determined Convention refugees are eligible or considered to be domestic students.”
While no public BC universities have chosen to utilize this allowable exception, Toronto’s York University is challenging this inequity by using a similar flexibility in Ontario’s guidelines, offering domestic tuition rates to refugee-claimant students through the “Protected Person Program.”
I urge Simon Fraser University (SFU) to recognize refugee-claimant students as an equity-deserving group, differentiated from international students, with access to domestic tuition fee rates. This is an equity leadership opportunity among universities in BC, within federal and provincial BC guidelines, and directly aligned with SFU’s objectives to enhance inclusion for equity deserving groups and to develop initiatives to improve affordability and accessibility for students.3