International Students At CBU Upset Over Tuition Hike

Some international students at Cape Breton University are questioning management’s decision to raise tuition during a pandemic.

Alex and Giaan are two of those students. Both are in their final year at CBU, are from India, and requested anonymity for fear there could be backlash for speaking publicly.

“I don’t want anything to affect my future. My parents worked too hard for me to be here. I worked hard as well. I am not about to lose everything,” said Alex.

“CBU’s administration has the power to do that. If they say I will not be able to take classes at Cape Breton, I will be deported…How can I trust the management when they have already lied about the prices?”

Both question the university’s plan to increase tuition fees by three (3) percent, an increase of more than $1,000 since 2018-19. Giaan believes fees should have been reduced since CBU classes have been moved online for the 2020-21 year.

“Online or virtual learning is not the same as in-person learning. We don’t recieve the same things we get when we are in the classroom,” said Giaan.

“We pay fees for IT and some of our tuition fees are for campus maintenance and other campus facilities, but these are not being deducted from our fees. The university have always been closed. The costs should not be the same for them.”

Gordon MacInnis, vice-president of finance and operations, said they have spent close to $1 million in the last six months to prepare for virtual learning for the fall semester — a cost that’s not related to the fee increment.

This investment, according to MacInnis, was made to ensure Cape Breton University students continue to receive a high-quality education — something he believes students will experience as the term progresses.


Alex and Giaan are also angered by a letter sent by school administration the first week of September saying tuition fees not paid in full by September. 30 could result in deregistration.

Mr. Amrinder Singh, Cape Breton University Students’ Union president said they have been busy with calls and emails from other international students with the same concerns.

“Students are really struggling, just starting to get back to part-time work after being laid off because of the coronavirus pandemic. This is a concern of many student, domestic and international,” said Singh,

In the past, Amrinder Singh believes students were given until the end of the term and were charged interest rates after September. 30 deadline.

“Threatening students like this during a pandemic does not make sense,” he said.

MacInnis said they presently have $2.6 million outstanding owed to CBU from default accounts, that were frozen.

The letter was meant as a tool to urge students to take steps toward clearing these outstanding tuition fees and MacInnis confirmed penalties associated with non-payment of fees haven’t changed.

“We’re moving forward with the collection of fee. We’re trying to get students engaged,” he said.

MacInnis said usually when staff begins the deregistration processes, few are completed. As an example, MacInnis said about 800 CBU students were in danger of being deregistered last Feb. By the end of the term, only about twenty (20) were for non-payment.

Since the coronavirus pandemic resulted in stay-at-home orders in March, Cape Breton University has lost $16.3 million in revenue and the expected revenue reduced for the fiscal year is $27 million.

MacInnis said like any business providing a service at a cost, Cape Breton must collect on accounts not paid.

“Our staffs do an excellent job, in my opinion, and are very open-minded to working with students,” he said. “We just need to ensure people are aware of their obligations.”