Ohio State is expecting to make an extra $1 million from incoming international students this academic year.
At its June meeting, the Board of Trustees agreed on a new fee that will cost undergraduate international students an extra $1,000 a year to attend the university.
Roughly 6,000 undergraduate international students attend OSU. One-fourth of them are new to the university for the 2012-2013 school year and have been charged the fee for Fall Semester. The June Board agenda said that the fee is expected to generate approximately $1 million in the first year, which is $500 thousand lower than what math indicates it would be for one-fourth of all international students contributing.
Returning international students were not charged the fee. In three years however, all international students attending the university will pay the $500 per semester fee, making the yearly monetary intake from this fee alone $6 million by then if enrollment patterns continue.
Chief financial officer for the university Geoff Chatas said the extra money will go toward providing resources specific to an international student’s needs.
“The number of international students has been increasing every year,” Chatas said. “When you add more and more international students you have to add resources for those students. There’s a cost to all that.”
Some international students said they thought the higher tuition is enough of an expense already.
“The fees are already ridiculous,” said Yuqing Zhu, a second-year in business administration and an international student from China. “For the semester most of my classes are big lectures and there are all kinds of students in there. And we’re paying extra? It’s not logical to me.”
Other students said they were upset that future and first-year students would have to pay the fee.
“The school wants to get more and more from us,” said Yihui Liu, a third-year in accounting and mathematics and an international student from China. “I think it’s unfair. I can’t do anything about it. I have to come here to study.”
Purdue University has an international student fee in place, which OSU University Registrar Brad Myers said was used as a benchmark to identify how much to charge international students at OSU.
The Purdue Exponent reported that international students at Purdue protested a $1,000 increase in their fee for the 2012-2013 school year in February. Last year the students paid $1,000 annually but will be paying $2,000 starting this fall.
Purdue established its $500 per-semester fee for the 2011-2012 school year that OSU has since emulated.
William Brustein, vice provost for global strategies and international affairs, said that, initially, 55 percent of the fee will fund improvements in academic and student life programs that serve international students.
“The number of international students has grown substantially over the years, and we need to be able to provide the type of academic as well as life enhancement such as housing and welcoming services like the Ohio State University should be offering,” Brustein said.
Brustein said the university is looking to increase the number of staff whose job it is to accommodate international students.
“We want the students to have a wonderful experience here,” Brustein said. “We want the ratio of advisers to students to be more favorable.”
Brustein said another 25 percent of the fee will go toward funding study-abroad scholarships available to all OSU students, not just international students.
“It’s a real strain on students and their budgets, and this is serving as an obstacle to getting more of our students abroad,” Brustein said. “We have to make study abroad more affordable (and) we have to provide more scholarships.”
The remaining 20 percent of the fee will fund improvements in what Brustein called international “information sharing.” The department plans on updating and introducing more accessible web portals that will allow students to apply online more easily. The upgrades will also make gathering information about “international activities” easier and more web accessible.
Brustein said the percentages will change over time, and that in years to come, the information-gathering portion, which takes 20 percent of the current fee, will be down to 6 percent because many of the charges are one-time costs.
After the initial one-time information-gathering percentage drops, the additional 14 percent of the $500 fee will fund international programming and study-abroad scholarships, which Congcong Ji, a third-year in math and international student from China, said he thinks is unfair.
“Every student should share the same fees if they share the same resources,” Ji said.
Karam Sheban contributed to this article.