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Response to: Letter from a broke student

no picture Sociology student
Catalina Gomez
Member since August 14, 2017
  • 1 Post

Angelica, I really found your post very interesting. First of all, let me tell you that I am a Chilean as well and that I also think our education system is a total mess. It’s awful and unfair. I totally agree with you on that. However, while I understand you are facing a bad situation because of our debt, I do not agree with your criticism of the high prices you pay as an international student. I don’t know if you are aware, but Canadians finance their education through taxes, unlike us Chileans, that we finance the cost mainly with our student fees. As a foreigner, your parents have not payed income taxes to the Canadian Government, so that is one reason why your fees are so high. Second, international students’ fees help to subside the cost for Canadian students, especially the poor ones. In that way, they avoid the problems that we have had in our country.

As you may recall, poor students in Chile are heavily indebted. This has created massive riots and strikes on schools and universities. The economic costs of this were and still are enormous. The good thing is that now poor students have a free university education. However, for middle class people fees are still high. In fact, in Chile university fees are one of the highest one in the OECD. There are many factors for this, but one of those is that we do not have international students that can help us subside our university education. So, in charging high fees for international students, Canada has avoided the costly riots and strikes, and its poor people have access to education.

Then, you say that there are no scholarships to international students. Well, that is false. They are awarded to two types of people. First, they are awarded to students that are in a much direr situations that we are in Chile. Three years ago I was on exchange at UBC (with a scholarship), and there the need-based scholarships were awarded to students from war torn places, like Afghanistan, South Sudan, Syria, etc. Chile is one of the most peaceful countries in Latin America, so of course no priority is given to us in need-based scholarships.

There are also merit-based scholarships for things like extraordinary achievements and leadership. Again, I will give you the example of UBC, which has the “International Leader of Tomorrow Award”. It covers the cost for everything: fees, rent, food, etc. If you look at their webpage, we can see that a girl from Costa Rica and even neighboring Peru won it, so it is not that impossible.

Canada however is not the only option for us Latinos. Many Chileans go to Argentina, Bolivia and Cuba, these countries have way cheaper education and sometimes, even free (Even for Medicine). If not, you can prepare at a “Preuniversitario” to give the admission test again, or even to enter a Technical School. Be aware that that most international students to whom need-based scholarships are given have neither of these options.

In conclusion, while I totally agree that the Chilean education is VERY bad, I think the Canadian one is awesome in comparison. Also, if you want to look for education abroad, Chileans have other options. Canada should continue to give priority in its funding to its own citizens and people who are fleeing a situation way worse than we as Chileans can ever imagine. However, I still wish that you succeed in Canada and that you become a good doctor that can help the sick people of the world.

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