University of Ottawa recently announced a revision in its tuition fee structure, whereby international students who know French and are looking at enrolling in French classes are offered a discount on their fees. This particular initiative has been started with the current 2014-15, batch.
This announcement has invited the ire and displeasure from international students who are not French-speaking. With this new discount on overall tuition fees, the eligible international students will be at par with the local Canadian students resulting in significant savings to the tune of $15,000 per year on tuition fees. This is the first time, such a discount has been introduced and the reactions from international students, who are not familiar with the French language has been negative.
Alternatively, the reaction from French-speaking international students has been very positive with the University posting a significant increase, almost three times, in enrollments from African countries like Senegal. Morocco etc. where French is spoken.
To quote some student’s reactions against this new initiative;
“This discount offers an unfair monetary advantage to those who can speak French, while we are penalized,” expressed Mark, an English speaking student.
To quote an irate student from China, Afung, “How can they distinguish students on the basis of language, when it comes to the future of young people? I am unhappy as I have to pay more, just because I cannot speak a particular language.”
Adding to the above sentiments, Brent, an English speaking student said, “Money is a huge challenge when it comes to studying for us, and by giving this discount, the University has created a huge divide amongst students, on a very sensitive matter like a language.”
Mindy said, “ I am outraged at this discrimination, just because I do not speak French or am not a native French speaker.”
All the above reactions from affected condone this decision ,creating a sombre mood amongst the new batch of international students who feel cheated and let down.
The University explains the rationale behind this decision, as an endeavor towards promoting French language and culture across its campus and its students. The University’s Chancellor, shared this sentiment and stated that such an initiative was taken to foster diversity, spread the French language across the future generations and build a culture of equality amongst the languages spoken on campus. The University stands behind its decision, stating that they intend to continue offering this discount in future too. The University’s international office has stated that they are working closely with the non-French speaking students to explain the rationale, and make them comfortable with the same.
In the words of a French speaking student from Senegal, Mary, “ I could never have imagined myself at this University, if it was not for this huge discount in my fees. I can now pursue my education and work towards building my future.”