Ohio State Office of International Affairs in the Enarson Classroom Building. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor

The cost the international undergraduate student fee at Ohio State has nearly tripled over the past four academic years.

Though the fee, which is said to provide academic and support services for international students, stays consistent for international students throughout each year at Ohio State it has gone from $996 in 2012 to $2,928 currently.

International students who enrolled before the 2012-13 academic year pay $996; those admitted during the 2015-16 and 2016-17 academic years pay $1,932; and those admitted during the 2017-18 academic year will pay $2,928.

The international student population has increased from 3,440 students in Autumn 2014 to 3,691 students Autumn 2017.  

The international fee supports programs that “help ensure continued academic progress for undergraduate international students by providing improved academic support; preparatory programs for language proficiency and academic readiness; enhanced welcome, temporary housing and counseling services; and cross-cultural programming,” Ben Johnson, an Ohio State spokesman, said in an email.

The programs include pre-departure orientation in China — which provides international students guidance in obtaining legal nonimmigrant status in the U.S. — a conversation program that provides a practice environment for English language skills and an orientation in Columbus for international students.

Keasen Hao, the Undergraduate Student Government international student emissary senator and a fourth-year in information systems and operation management, said international students haven’t been informed enough about the changes to warrant an increasing fee.

“This continuous increase of the international fee without any detailed explanation, justifying reasons and substantial increase of benefit introduced to international student is unfair to all international students,” Hao said.

Hao added that another concern for international students is that they haven’t seen an increase in programming.

Johnson said cultural programming and activities like leadership training, cultural excursions and community networking are provided to international students.

Farhan Quadri, a USG engineering senator and a fifth-year in biological engineering, agreed with Hao.

“Programs have been the same for the past three years, but now it’s three times more [expensive],” Quadri said. “If they have the same programs and the programs aren’t even that effective, then why are the fees increasing? Are they actually benefitting from the fee or are they just being overcharged?”

Johnson said Ohio State’s total tuition and fees cost for international students is below the median for Big Ten public institutions.

Savannah Sockwell, a USG off-campus senator and a third-year in public management, leadership and policy, said the increasing fee is a university budget issue.

“This just doesn’t seem fair to international students,” Sockwell said. “The university forces international students to prove they can pay for all four years of university. They just see international students as money.”

During a USG general assembly meeting Oct. 18, Hao, Quadri and Sockwell co-sponsored a resolution that was passed to ask for transparency by administrators as to where the fee is being used.

“As international student, I understand and respect that the nature of our school being a public state school and international students are not the first priority and I am proud to be a Buckeye,” Hao said. “However, I think we do deserve fair treatment.”

Incoming international students currently have a flat $996 international fee increase accompanied with an annual 3-percent increase already in place.