In June 2019, the Board of Regents approved a fee of $ 500 per semester for all international students with F or J visa status on the Ann Arbor campus of the University of Michigan.
The fee was originally designed “to cope with rising costs and expanding services during a period of declining state support and pressures on the university’s finances.” Activist groups on campus have since criticized the university for the fees and for what they said was a lack of transparency about what services the funds would fund.
In a May 2020 Michigan Daily editorial written by the Graduate Employees’ Organization, the organization criticized the university for adopting the fees and called it “discriminatory.” They specifically condemned the University for continuing to charge fees during the COVID-19 pandemic, even as many international students were studying remotely in their home countries. GEO also started a petition in August 2019 that called for increased transparency of the University as well as what the fees funded.
In an email to The Daily, University spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald wrote that the funding is used to support international students on campus as well as to keep tuition low for students at the University. State. Fitzgerald also wrote that the additional fee income is placed in a general fund intended to support education, student services, and academics.
“These tuition and fees are determined by a combination of factors, including the cost of education, market factors, and subsidies provided by state credits and philanthropic donations,” Fitzgerald wrote. “As a public institution, the university enjoys state support and the university remains committed to affordability for state residents. This is the principle behind the difference between resident and non-resident tuition fees.
Amir Fleischmann, Rackham student and co-chair of the GEO Contracts Committee, is an international student from Canada. Due to his status as a graduate student instructor, Fleishmann said he didn’t have to pay international fees, but his existence made him unwanted. He also said it made him less likely to take a semester of teaching to focus on his schoolwork.
“It makes me wonder what I would do if I didn’t teach during the semester,” Fleishmann said. “I like to teach, but I also want to finish my thesis, and it’s easier to do that when I’m not teaching.
Fleischmann said he supports the idea that the fees are discriminatory and believes the University’s justification is arbitrary.
“The University has not provided any explanation as to the benefits international students get from these fees,” Fleishmann said. “There really is no clear reason for this, other than a seizure of money from the University which is already rich enough.”
Fitzgerald wrote that international students aren’t the only ones facing additional fees and higher tuition fees.
“Students across the university pay tuition and fees that vary depending on their residency status, university level, programs they are enrolled in and courses they are taking,” Fitzgerald wrote. “The fees bring UM into alignment with a number of institutions that have international fees, tuition differentials for international students, or both.”
Registration fees for international students are not uncommon at other major public universities. Purdue University and Michigan State University charge $ 2,310 and $ 1,500 more per academic year, respectively, for international students than for international students.
International students at the University currently pay the same tuition rate as international students, with the exception of fees, although they are not eligible to receive federal aid and their travel and living expenses are estimated. higher.
In an interview with The Daily, a member of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association who agreed to speak with the Daily on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals from the university administration and will be called in This article “Emily” said that the CSSA has been working with the University since 2019, when the fees were established to defend the funds generated by the fees to go specifically to international students who pay them.
“I think any charges incurred on a certain group of people should be directly applied to that group of people,” Emily said. “There is no apparent reason why we should be paying tuition fees, scholarships or anything for other student bodies. We do not have this obligation.
Fleishmann also said the university should use its $ 12.1 billion endowment to subsidize these funds for non-international students.
“(The University) could derive a greater (percentage) of endowment money each year without putting the University’s financial position at risk,” Fleishmann said. “So the idea that this (burden) should be put on the backs of international students is absurd and discriminatory.”
Joseph Lobodzinski, senior LSA and deputy chairman of the CSG assembly, said he hoped eventually to pass a resolution calling for an investigation to determine exactly where the royalty revenue is being used. Lobodzinski said he thinks it’s important to support the state’s students, but he doesn’t think it’s appropriate for international students to have to pay extra fees because of it.
“I would just like to know what the University is doing with this money… that they are putting this money to good use to get more resources for international students,” Lobodzinski said.
Emily said that after the fee was passed in 2019, the CSSA obtained a verbal commitment from the University administration that the fee would not be increased for a period of five years after its adoption. Schlissel having announced her resignation a year earlier than originally planned, Emily said CSSA was concerned the fees would rise under new administration.
“There is also a concern that after President Schlissel (resigns) from his post as president, the University will not stick to the five-year period … in terms of international student fees, which could be a huge problem for us, ”said Emily.
University spokesman Kim Broekhuizen wrote in an email to The Daily that although university officials said there were no plans to increase fees in budgets after his implemented in 2019, the university is not aware of an officially authorized five-year commitment. Broekhuizen noted that the Board of Regents approves the price of tuition and fees on an annual basis.
Journalist for the daily George Weykamp can be contacted at [email protected].