Surrey residents respond to heartbreaking death of international student Amrinder Singh

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      Since the outbreak of COVID-19, there have been several stories in the media about its devastating financial impact on international students.

      Now, there's been a fatality.

      Amrinder Singh, the 21-year-old son of an assistant sub inspector with Punjab police, committed suicide on September 17.

      Surrey residents are making arrangements to have his body sent back to the city of Jalandhar, where he's from.

      The Tribune newspaper in Punjab reported that he came to Canada in 2019 on a study visa and was living with four roommates.

      According to his father, Malkiat, Singh had an affair with a Pakistani girl and sent her gifts and money.

      The family reportedly sent him about $36,000 (Rs20 lakh) through March.

      The former executive director of the World Sikh Organization, Jakskaran Singh Sandhu, drew attention to the tragedy on his Twitter feed.

      "Over at the @WorldSikhOrg we have been supporting international students via & college/university orientation sessions across Canada," Sandhu stated. "But it's not enough."

      International students pay stratospheric fees

      According to a 2018 report by the B.C. Federation of Students, international tuition fees in B.C. were the second-highest in Canada for full-time students.

      Back then, they averaged $23,331 per year for undergraduates.

      "One of the biggest financial challenges facing international students is the inability to properly budget for costs year-to-year, let alone for the duration of their studies," the report stated.

      "There are no rules that limit the scale of international tuition fee increases nor provide for set notice periods," it continued, "therefore tuition fee levels are based on whatever the institution deems required to balance its budget.

      "This is an unsustainable model that often results in students struggling to stay in BC to finish their studies."

      On June 19, the Alliance of B.C. Students chair Grace Dupasquier told the legislature's committee on finance and government students that the provincial government needs to demonstrate a "proactive strong show of good faith towards international students".

      "Capping the amount that international tuition can be raised year over year to two percent, the same cap that already exists for domestic students, would be a huge step in the right direction," Dupasquier told legislators.

      To date, the provincial government has not implemented this recommendation.

      In 2019, more Canadian study permits were granted to students from India than from any other country.

      For anyone in distress, helpful resources include the Crisis Line (604-872-3311), postsecondary institution counselling departments, and family physicians or medical clinics. Those in distress can also visit a hospital emergency room.