Report to the VCC Board of Governors, March 29th, 2023 Prepared by Taryn Thomson, VCCFA President
International on the Rise
The financial statements in our package project that 43% of our students will be International in the coming year, and that 73% of our tuition revenue will be from international fees. We know that we are on par or below the percentages of International students at other institutions, still I think this is a moment to stop and take stock.
We are getting to a place that we have, up until now, cautiously avoided, and we are getting here for reasons we all understand: we need the revenue. However, it is important that we consider some of the implications of this direction. First of all, we know that International students come with unique needs for support and services. Has the college built increases in these supports into this budget?
In addition, we all have heard much in the media about families and students who put their trust in recruiters, only to find they have been misled and misinformed. Ontario colleges recently brought in rules (coming into effect in June) for working with agents. Agents must go through training, unscrupulous agents can be terminated, and colleges themselves must commit to providing adequate supports to students once they are in the country. It is important for us to move forward thoughtfully into these murky waters.
What do we need to do as a college to ensure our growing body of international students are safe, supported, and encouraged to thrive while at VCC?
Commitment to Educational Programming
There used to be a VCC policy that stated cuts or reductions to education (classes, programs, and faculty) would only happen after non-education related cuts had occurred. I am not sure how we have drifted to a place where classes and faculty are the first thing to get cut at an educational institution, but that is indeed where we find ourselves and have been for quite some time. I raise this in light of the extremely tight budget we have before us. We are seeing persistent soft domestic enrollment, lingering due to continued pandemic effects as well as the cost of living in this province that requires people to work full time just to make ends meet. We will, I predict, come to a place where cuts to developmental programming are again deemed necessary, and I want to suggest that we make other choices. Now is the time for us to consider what else can be done, well in advance of cuts that will impact our delivery of education.
Can the college commit to policy, and if not policy, at least a stated guiding principle, that first and foremost the job of education must occur, and so cuts, if ever necessary, should come from non educational, non student facing areas of the college.