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Increase in University Fees During a Housing Crisis Causes Concern for International Students

With the cost of living skyrocketing in the GTA, international students are now looking further to find housing.

by Macenzie Rebelo
Image of students with backpacks walking around TMU campus on a sunny day.
TMU students headed to class on Sept. 11. (Macenzie Rebelo/OTR)

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A 24-year-old international student from France moved to Ontario last year on her own to pursue her graduate certificate in radio and media production at Humber College North Campus.

Laetitia Dogbe pays quadruple the tuition when compared to a domestic student. 

She opted out of living on Humber’s campus because it would have cost an additional $6,000 a year. “You had to get the meal plan too,” Dogbe said, explaining that she found the meal plan did not accommodate her lifestyle or eating habits.

According to Dogbe, finding student accommodation in a tight housing market is difficult. The rental market is exclusive not just because of the pricing but, “landlords want tenants with certain backgrounds,” said Dogbe.

Based on a Statistics Canada survey, the cost of tuition fees for international undergraduate students has increased by 3.5 per cent since 2021. 

The average cost of student fees in Canada for a full-time undergrad international student is a whopping $34,628 a year. Meanwhile, the average cost for a domestic student is closer to $6,434 a year. 

Aimé Ntwari, chief analyst for the Canadian Centre for Educational Statistics, says this number does not include the cost of residence fees for students who choose to live on campus.

Visualisation of residency fees.

On the higher end of residency fees, University of Toronto New College campus can cost a student anywhere from $13,050 to $18,330 a year, whereas at Humber College North Campus, living on campus can range from  $10,190 a year. A single room at Toronto Metropolitan University’s Pitman Hall can cost as much as $14,794 a year.  

The average cost for a one-bedroom apartment in Toronto is around $2,592 a month, according to Rentals.ca August Rent Report, and a two-bedroom apartment can run an average of $3,370 a month.

“Prices and unaffordability will continue to rise,” said Donal Ward-McCarthy, a realtor with 311 Realty Group. “Especially when there is a limited market.” 

International students find themselves sharing apartments and off-campus housing with other students in order to afford rent alongside costly tuition. 

According to the Government of Canada, in 2022 550,150 international student study permits were issued, Ontario being the most popular student destination making up 52 per cent of those permits.

Ward-McCarthy suggests that popularity will continue to drive up rental prices.

“There is no clear solution in sight,” said Ward-McCarthy. ”Prices will continue to rise when inflation starts to stabilize but we don’t know when that will happen.” 

During her 12-month program, Dogbe moved homes three times within the GTA. 

“First it was Brampton, and then I moved to Mississauga,” said Dogbe. Now she’s in Toronto but may have to move again. 

I am a second year MJ student at Toronto Metropolitan University, co-editor of The Otter and a reporter for On The Record.

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