By: Courtney Miller and Natasha Tar
International students play major role in SFU’s financial situation
At the latest Simon Fraser University Board of Governors meeting on January 25, Martin Pochurko, vice-president finance and administration, reported that SFU can expect an “operating surplus of $22.386 million forecast for [2017–18].” A significant portion of this surplus is coming from international students enrolled at SFU.
Denise Williams, alumni order-in-council, clarified that international students fees make up approximately half of SFU’s revenues, which Pochurko confirmed, stating, “It’s no secret that international students are making a positive impact on the bottom line.” He then said that the excess money will be put towards capital assets, like investments.
The effect of the projected surplus on the budget will be taken into consideration during the budget discussions that are slated to occur in March 2018.
Faculty member June Francis remarked that “if you continue to see increases in tuition [for international students] you end up, in fact, having a very narrow band in terms of the socioeconomic standing of your international students . . . So essentially, you have an internationalization strategy that targets rich, foreign students from specific areas of the world, which, of course, is at odds with many of [SFU’s] values.”
Francis also commented that “if we continue to increase within a narrow band, I’m not clear that the full benefits of internationalization from a university point of view will be realized.”
As a response, Pochurko reported that scholarships and bursaries for international students are growing under vice-president academic, Peter Keller. SFU President Andrew Petter reminded the board that “the budget proposal for this year foresees an increase in international tuition that’s fairly modest: 4%.” He elaborated that “45% of that 2% [increase] will then be allocated for international students.”
President Petter previously clarified that “the targets for international students are set . . . sometimes, of course, the number of students who actually show up is greater than anyone expects . . . that’s why there’s an overage here, not because there was an intentional increase in the numbers beyond the target set.”
“It is not something that’s a function of deliberate financial or academic planning,” he reiterated.
University updates programs
Jill Earthy, order-in-council, announced that SFU will offer a social justice in education minor starting summer 2018. SFU has offered a social justice certificate up to this point, but no other program in social justice specifically.
Earthy also mentioned that SFU’s Asia-Canada program would be renamed to the Global Asia program, a change that will take place in fall 2018. However, according to the program’s website, there has been a “suspension of admission” to both the minor and its extended minor programs since September 2017.
Improvements for SFU residences
President Petter told the Board of Governors that SFU has “now reached agreement with a successful proponent for the first phase of the residence expansion.” Phase one has been approved on the business side and SFU is “just waiting for government to sign off on a couple of things.”
He anticipates that the “government [will] create a program to allow universities to build residence and do it on the basis of their own debt.” Should the government make such a program, President Petter stated that “we may be able to move forward more quickly than we had previously thought with phase two.”
SFSS approves stadium design
The Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) has formally approved the design of the new stadium, according to President Petter. Despite the stadium being previously cancelled in 2016, the idea was revisited and eventually approved in March 2017.
Now that the SFSS have given their support, work on the stadium can proceed. The stadium will seat 1,200 to 1,800 students, and will feature an improved change room and a full roof covering.
Canada 150 Chairs
The Board of Governors announced that they had secured two of 25 research chairs in the Canada 150 program, which was created by the federal government. Only one of the chairs, Caroline Colijin, Research Chair in Mathematics for Infection, Evolution, and Public Health, was announced publicly. The unnamed chair’s area of expertise is computing science with a focus on gender, according to Joy Johnson, vice-president research and international.
President Petter commented that securing these research chairs “speaks to our growing strength and reputation as a research university.”