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Students upset as some Canadian universities hike tuition fees

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TORONTO —
Some Canadian universities are raising tuition fees for the new school year much to the consternation of students, who argue their costs should be going down, not up in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While schools argue they need an infusion of cash to deal in part with higher costs of remote teaching and learning, students say they already face challenges, such as difficulty in finding summer employment.

“Students are struggling more than ever with skyrocketing tuition increases they have faced over the years,” Sofia Descalzi, national chairwoman the Canadian Federation of Students said on Friday. “It really is disappointing to see that in a time of crisis, universities and colleges are not ensuring affordability and accessibility of their education and reducing tuition fees, but they are going the opposite way.”

For example, the University of Manitoba announced last week it would be raising tuition by an average of 3.75 per cent. Most undergrads will be paying about $250 more a year for a full course load but others will pay $640 more.

The school said provincial grants have been falling while remote teaching and learning in light of the pandemic is adding hundreds of thousands of dollars to its costs. The university said it was setting aside another $600,000 in student aid.

“We know that cost is a barrier to many, even in the best of times,” said Janice Ristock, a vice-president.

Even in Ontario, where tuition was cut and then frozen for two years last year, the University of Guelph is among schools that have raised tuition for international students, who generally pay significantly more than their Canadian counterparts.

Horeen Hassan, with the Central Student Association at the university, said students were shocked at the increases, which the school estimates at between three and 15 per cent. International students already pay on average three times more than domestic students, she said, and COVID has wrecked their employment plans, too.

“Many international students are heartbroken that an institution they love so much is putting such a financial burden on them,” Hassan said in a release.

The university said the increase that took effect this spring was similar to hikes adopted by peer institutions although its overall rates were lower than theirs. At the same time, it said it would bolster supports available to students in need.

“We understand that the increases may represent a hardship for some continuing and returning international students, particularly amid challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the University of Guleph said.

Similarly, the University of Toronto said tuition for international undergrads has gone up for the summer session by an average of 5.4 per cent — 4.2 per cent for graduates — and will remain at that level in the fall. The school said it has also been providing emergency relief funding for those impacted by COVID.

Students, who have long complained about the cost of post-secondary education, said the pandemic has exacerbated the situation. Even with some emergency financial help from the federal government, many will have difficulty getting through the summer let alone being able to deal with more expensive education in the fall, Descalzi said.

A recent survey for the federation and the Canadian Association of University Teachers found a significant number of students were rethinking their plans. Among the reasons were lost income, limited support, and concerns about remote learning. In all, almost one-third of those asked said they might not go to school given the situation.

Descalzi said universities should resort to belt-tightening at the administration and executive levels or dip into reserves before placing a higher financial burden on those furthering their education.

“We are in times of crisis,” she said. “They should not be raising fees.”

Dalhousie University, which is raising tuition three per cent, said it was taking steps to cut costs and limit non-essential spending. The school noted that 41 per cent of its operating money comes directly from students and increases were necessary to maintain academic standards.

“This was true before the COVID-19 pandemic and is even more apparent today,” spokeswoman Janet Bryson said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on May 29, 2020

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B.C. high school drops Rebels sports name linked to American Civil War

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The search is on for a new team name for a high school in B.C.’s Southern Interior.

This week, School District 58 announced that Princeton Secondary School has dropped its longstanding Rebels name, stating it was outdated and “had nothing to do with Canada, for one thing, or our school.”

The reasoning, said the school district, was that the team name was directly linked to the American Civil War.

Read more:
Simon Fraser University athletics commits to dropping ‘Clan’ team name

In an interview with Global News on Saturday, board of education chair Gordon Comeau said new staff “were researching everything out and they came across the fact that the name the Rebels had, at one point in time, been associated with the Confederate flag and the Confederate uniform, and ties, really, to the Confederate cause during the American civil war.

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“And the board felt that these images, although they were used recently and had been for years, they just have no relationship to Canada, for one thing, or our school.

“And nowadays, it’s just not an appropriate thing. We see it all over the news, and we have a policy that’s pretty clear — it’s to raise awareness and improve the understanding of the human race and lives of all people.”






Washington Redskins to undergo review of team name


Washington Redskins to undergo review of team name

Gordon said parents and students were informed of the board’s unanimous decision to drop the name.

The announcement follows recent news that the NFL’s Washington Redskins are looking at changing their name, along with Simon Fraser University committing to dropping its “Clan” team name.

Comeau said the name had been looked at a number of times over the years, but never at the board level, until the past month, adding “with SFU being a good example.”

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Comeau told Global News that the school district is committed to addressing issues when it finds them, “and we found this one.”

He continued, saying “they did find pictures that indicated that some of the uniforms, they did wear a confederate flag as a symbol on their uniform.”






Edmonton Eskimos to keep team name


Edmonton Eskimos to keep team name

Comeau said some school symbols had a cartoonish-style Civil War character carrying a gun, with another being a Confederate hat in front of two swords.

“It’s just not appropriate in this day and age to have that,” said Comeau.

He said the name change will take place in the fall, and will be done through the school, students and stakeholders.

“We’re a very strong mining and lumber community, and there’s lots of wildlife around us,” said Comeau.

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“I’m sure they’ll come up with something that will be very appropriate for their school.”




© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.



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Education

Lester B. Pearson School Board promises immediate action on racism

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Speaking at a West Island rally against racism, the chair of Lester B. Pearson School Board promised immediate action in light of several racist incidents involving students.

“These incidents were a wake up call for us and a call to action,” said board chair Noel Burke.

Burke spoke to the assembled crowd of young people and community members, saying that the school board would immediately form an anti-racism task force, composed of staff, students and people of colour.

He said the task force’s first report will be ready by Sept 1.

Burke said the Quebec English School Board Association, of which he is a member, will be calling on the Education Ministry to do a curriculum review in order to better represent diversity in all subjects, not just history.

“The Lester B. Pearson School Board acknowledges that systemic racism exists in society, in our communities and in our schools,” said Burke.

“We must take an active role with addressing racism with students and staff.”

More than a hundred people attended the rally outside Pierrefonds Community High School on Saturday afternoon. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

More than 100 people attended the rally outside Pierrefonds Community High School on Saturday afternoon.

The event was organized by Youth Stars, a Montreal non-profit organization serving youth. They said it was a chance for young people to speak out about racism and what changes they want to see.

Malik Shaheed, a director at Youth Stars, spoke to the crowd, saying: “The goal of today’s event is for you to meet your local stakeholders. To let them know how you feel.”

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U.S. immigration to Canada is skyrocketing

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As the U.S. celebrates Independence Day, on the fourth of July, it is worth taking a look at immigration patterns from the U.S. to Canada in recent years.

Over 10,000 U.S. residents immigrated north in 2019 through Canada’s Express Entry system.

This represents a significant increase from the 600 U.S. residents who immigrated through Express Entry in 2015.

Express Entry is the main way that Canada manages skilled worker applications.

Those who are eligible under one of Express Entry’s three immigration programs are graded on their human capital characteristics such as their age, education, language skills, and work experience.

The grading scheme is known as the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS).

Every two weeks, the federal department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) holds Express Entry draws inviting candidates with the highest CRS scores to apply for permanent residence.

IRCC then aims to process the permanent residence applications of successful candidates within six months.

Express Entry draws have remained ongoing throughout the coronavirus pandemic and Express Entry is off to its fastest start this year since 2017.

Find out if you are eligible for Express Entry

A look at U.S. skilled worker immigration to Canada

The staggering growth of immigrants moving from the U.S. to Canada is likely actually under-stating the extent of the growth.

While Express Entry is the main way for skilled workers to gain Canadian permanent residence, there are other prominent options which are also attracting skilled workers from the U.S.

The most notable is the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).

Under Canada’s Constitution, immigration is an area of shared federal and provincial jurisdiction, although the Constitution gives the federal government more power.

Twelve out of Canada’s 13 provinces and territories operate their own immigration programs. Quebec has its own skilled worker system due to its special status within the Canadian federation. The remaining provinces and territories welcome skilled workers through their own PNP streams.

Each province and territory designs their own PNP selection criteria and administer their PNP streams based on their local labour market needs.

Skilled workers arriving from the U.S. also obtain Canadian permanent residence through the PNP.

While some of these individuals are captured in IRCC’s Express Entry data, since a portion of PNP immigrants are processed through Express Entry each year, the available data does not capture all U.S. skilled workers who come to Canada through the PNP, as well as the other federal immigration pathways that the country offers.

Hence, there is a strong chance that the actual number of skilled workers who came to Canada from the U.S. in 2019 is markedly higher than the 10,000 who came through Express Entry.

Find out if you are eligible for any Canadian immigration programs

Why immigration from the U.S. is rising

Skilled worker immigration from the U.S. is rising for the following reasons.

First, Express Entry has played an increasingly important role in Canada’s skilled worker system since it first launched in 2015. Whereas only 26,000 individuals received an Express Entry invitation to apply (ITA) for permanent residence that year, the figure now stands at over 85,000 annually.

Given that skilled workers from the U.S. have a competitive edge when submitting an Express Entry profile since they are fluent in English, have high levels of education and work experience, a larger number of them in absolute terms are gaining PR through Express Entry.

Canada also launched its Global Skills Strategy in 2017 to help employers in Canada bring foreign tech talent to the country more easily. A key component of the strategy is the Global Talent Stream which enables employers in Canada to bring foreign tech workers in about one month (compared to longer processing times for non-tech workers).

Among those arriving to Canada through the strategy are workers from the U.S. who are then going on to transition to Canadian permanent residence through the likes of Express Entry.

The third major reason is likely the uncertainty surrounding U.S. immigration policy. While the need for foreign workers in the U.S. has continued to increase, political gridlock has made much needed U.S. immigration reform difficult to achieve. As such, many foreign nationals working in the U.S. have made the choice of pursuing permanent residence in Canada.

How to submit an Express Entry profile from the U.S.

If you wish to consider immigrating to Canada, Express Entry is a fairly straightforward process:

Step 1: See if you are eligible for one of the three Express Entry programs. The Federal Skilled Worker Program is likely the most viable option for you if you have not lived in Canada before.

Step 2: Submit an Express Entry profile. As part of this process, all applicants (even if they are native English speakers) must complete an English language test accredited by IRCC. Another key component of this process is obtaining an Educational Credential Assessment.

Step 3: Once you have entered the Express Entry pool, wait to see if you get an ITA for permanent residence. Express Entry draws happen bi-weekly. Another major benefit of entering the pool is you increase your immigration odds since provinces and territories can review your profile and provide you with an invitation through their PNP.

Step 4: If you obtain an invitation, submit your permanent residence application. IRCC aims to process PR applications within 6 months.

Find out if you are eligible for Express Entry

Kareem El-Assal is the Director of Policy & Digital Strategy at CanadaVisa.

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