The Students’ Union is revisiting the document outlining their stance on international student issues.
On September 18, Students’ Council passed the first reading of a new version of their political policy on internationalization, which will be used to guide their advocacy for international student concerns. Council voted unanimously to approve the policy.
SU political policies outline the main goals of the organization’s advocacy efforts. The current internationalization policy is set to expire in April of 2020.
Stephen Raitz, Student Council’s policy committee chair, said the SU decided to revisit the policy to ensure it was up to date with international students concerns.
“International students have unique needs,” Raitz said. “More and more of them are facing hurdles to their education… We need to be meeting these [challenges] head on.”
According to Raitz, universities in Canada have begun to rely more on international student enrolment. He added that after last year’s international student tuition increase of 3.14 per cent, it is becoming more important for the SU to proactively defend international student interests.
“The proportion of international students on campus is increasing,” Raitz said. “Our policy recognizes this while working to have their needs met in a predictable and transparent manner.”
Three resolutions have been added to the new internationalization policy, including:
- Refusing to support any increases in English language requirements without consulting international students.
- Advocating to raise the student aid cap set by the federal government for international students.
- Advocating that the university provide trauma-informed support services for international students.
Of the three new included resolutions, Council debated whether to support increases in English language requirements. These requirements are instituted by the university to ensure international students are properly prepared and have a proficient level of language comprehension before they arrive to study.
Board of governors representative Levi Flaman said he’s heard from international students saying they are not opposed to increases in English language requirements because it ensures they’re ready to perform well in a university environment where English may not be their first language.
“English language requirements are not really designed to keep these students out, but more to keep them in,” Flaman said. “If somebody skirts by [the requirement level] and get in, in a semester… they realize that they cannot understand professors well.”
Native studies councillor Nathan Sunday said that the international students he consulted said they do not approve of increases to English requirements.
“International students said they wanted this [policy resolution] in here,” Sunday said. “If any time an English language requirement is brought up, international students should be given an opportunity to have their say.”
The previous iteration of the internationalization policy included advocating the federal government to increase the number of permanent residencies for undergraduate students issued under the Canadian Experience Class Program, and to issue multiple-entry visas to all international students. Raitz said these resolutions were dropped from the internationalization policy to be included instead under the upcoming student employment policy.
While the majority of the drafting and research was completed by last year’s policy committee, Raitz said the remainder of the work was left to this year’s council.
“This policy covers us and international students in a longer term mentality,” Raitz said. “We can look to provide for them better now.”
After passing first reading, the proposed policy will now head to policy committee to incorporate amendments. It will be presented to council for a second reading where it will be finalized.
“The work that was done to update this policy has only made it stronger,” Raitz said.
The next meeting of Students’ Council is on October 2 at Augustana Campus.