Written by: Dev Petrovic, Staff Writer
On November 10 2020, Samad Raza, VP External Relations of the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS), wrote a letter demanding that the BC provincial government include international students in the Tuition Limit Policy to regulate tuition fee hikes and an increase in operating grants to reduce financial stress for students. It was addressed to MLA Melanie Mark and Premier John Horgan following SFU’s proposal to increase tuition fees for the next two years.
In a phone interview with The Peak, Raza explained that in recent years, the provincial government’s operating grants have declined, resulting in an increased reliance on revenue collection through tuition fees.
“Tuition fees are one of the biggest issues,” Raza said. “It’s not just a pandemic thing, but going forward, tuition fees have been increasing for local and international students [ . . . ] We have been working on it since day one — to reach out to the government and talk about it. But now since the pandemic, it has become a more urgent situation.
“We even presented this operating grant and international tuition fees cap ask in the provincial finance committee that happened in the summer,” said Raza, regarding the SFSS’ past work against the tuition hikes.
He further added that while he has not received a response from Melanie Mark or from the Premier, he had the chance to speak with MLA Katrina Chen regarding operating grants. “She [was] really happy to connect me to whoever gets appointed as the new minister of advanced education,” Raza noted.
“I’m hoping for a response first and to set up a meeting with them to talk about it [ . . . ] in-depth,” answered Raza when asked about what outcome he hopes for his letter. He would also like to meet to discuss what kind of action has already been taken, as well as upcoming plans for improving student life.
As of now, Raza explained that the SFSS is working to reach out to “as many different government qualitative members [ . . . ] to try to push them to take some kind of action.”
The Peak reached out to MLA Melanie Mark and Premier John Horgan, but they did not respond for comment.
The following statement was provided to The Peak via email from Sean Leslie, communications director of the Ministry of Advanced Education: “Government is currently in a transition period before the swearing in of a new Cabinet — which is expected to happen later this month. During this transition period and until new ministers receive their mandate, [the] government is limited in what it can say in answer to questions relating to tuition fees.”