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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

April 10, 2013 at 5:42 PM

20 percent surcharge on international students

International students help fund education

I write in opposition to the proposed 20 percent surcharge on international students at colleges in Washington [“Surcharge on foreign students one idea to aid higher ed,” NWFriday, April 5].

At the UW, international students already pay almost three times what in-state students pay; $29,938 versus $12,950. This is almost twice the actual cost incurred by educating that student (about $17,000). That is, each international student pays much of the cost of educating an in-state student as well as paying his or her own costs.

Some supporters have argued that international students take spaces from local students. But spaces available are based on funding available and international students contribute funding. Thus, removing or reducing the number of international students from the UW would in fact decrease the funding available for local students.

Additionally, students — particularly research students — cannot easily change schools. As such, if implemented, this surcharge should be imposed on new students only because only they are able to choose whether the cost is worthwhile. Existing students are stuck and suddenly imposing this on them is tantamount to a bait-and-switch.

Finally, international students bring skills and perform research that brings jobs and opportunity to the region. Imposing this fee discourages that and takes money away from many people.

Trond Nilsen, UW international student

International students bring benefits

As a current college student in Washington, I am concerned by the bill proposed from Senate leaders to charge international students a higher tuition [“Surcharge on foreign students one idea to aid higher ed,” NWFriday, April 5]. This is not an appropriate way to earn more money.

International students bring many benefits to the school other than just their tuition. They are an integral part of the student body and the overall college experience because of the rich cultural backgrounds they bring with them.

Aligning with the goals of a college education in the first place, international students enrich student lives by broadening their views on the world. They expose American students to unique customs and cultural norms, which would normally require expensive trips out of the country.

Along with making Washington state schools noncompetitive, a move like this could also lead to international colleges raising their tuition for American students in response. The chance to study abroad is such a unique cultural experience and students learn much more than they can learn from textbooks.

The money earned by such a decision is not worth the priceless cultural exposure both international and American students get with the current international-college exchanges.

International students already pay substantially more than in-state students and an increase as high as 20 percent would surely drive them away and result in less revenues in the long run.

Anna Akopova, Edmonds

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