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University hopes to balance French-English ratio of international students

The University of Ottawa has drastically reduced tuition fees for international students studying mostly in French in an effort to increase the number of international students attending the U of O and even out the number of French and English students, as per Allan Rock’s Vision 2020.

The new policy will be implemented in the 2014–15 academic year and will waive a portion of the tuition fees for international students studying in French by charging them the same fee as Canadian students. Students who take nine or more credits (three courses) in French per semester will be eligible.

Undergraduate international students pay an average of $10,000 to $12,000 in tuition costs per academic year, not including living costs, travel costs, and other expenses. The discounted fee will lower their tuition to an average of $3,000 to $4,000 per year.

University administration and the International Office hope the discounted tuition fees will increase the number of international students at the U of O. In Allan Rock’s Vision 2020, he said the university intends to double the number of international students by the year 2020, and the International Office is optimistic that the decreased cost will help push that vision forward.

“The U of O has decided to make its study programs more international, specifically by encouraging French-speaking students, fostering cultural diversity, and ensuring a balance between official languages on campus,” said former Governor General Michaëlle Jean, chancellor of the U of O, in a media release. “Our institution is working hard to advance the cause of French language and culture for current and future generations by promoting post-secondary education and research in French.”

According to the International Office, the number of international students has largely increased in recent years, but the number of English-studying students is much higher, and climbing more rapidly, than French-studying students.

Samuel Zakhour, an international student attending the U of O, said he agrees the decreased cost will entice more students to attend the university and balance the French-English ratio.

“As someone who speaks French,  I feel privileged that the U of O would decrease these prices,” he said.

He also said the new policy will give international students the chance to receive the higher education that may not be available to them in their home country.

The university also intends to double the number of U of O students being sent abroad for international academic exchanges. 

with files from Spencer Van Dyk