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A GoFundMe has been started for an international student studying in Victoria who is at risk of having to return home because of higher-than-average tuition fees.

Sandisha Harkoo is an international student from Mauritius Island, a tiny island off the coast of Madagascar. She first moved to Victoria in 2017 to study business, but because of COVID-19 decided to study health care.

Now, Sandisha is facing a more than $7,000 bill for her last semester of the Health Care Aide program at Camosun College — an amount more than double than that of Canadian students.

While Sandisha anticipated the tuition fee, it was the lack of support for international students during COVID-19 that has put her in such a situation.

“Part of the reason I went to Camosun for Health Care was to try and support myself during COVID-19. There’s a need for health care workers right now,” said Sandisha.

“Unfortunately, there are a lot of other costs associated with the program — first aid, immunization, and scrubs — that have prevented me from saving money to afford this last semester.”

Sandisha’s family has sold the family car and taken a loan from their bank back in their home, but Sandisha said it’s not enough to cover her remaining tuition.

Sandisha’s friend, Jessica Beaulieu, has started a fundraiser and collected bottles to help Sandisha out.

“[Where Sandisha is from] $35 of their dollars is equivalent to $1 Canadian dollar. They are working back to back day and nights and have just sold the family car. If she doesn’t make the tuition by Friday [May 14th] she will have to move back home and throw all the money away her family has invested [into her degree],” Jessica told Victoria Buzz.

The deadline for Sandisha’s summer tuition is May 14th with a goal of $10,000. Currently, it has raised $1,450.

“How many more international students have struggled with this? We hope that this helps Sandisha, but also calls attention to the fact that international students are paying such a large amount, and during a time when students are doing most of their learning online,” said Jessica.

The cost of tuition at Camosun College for the Health Care provider program for International students is $11,290, while a Canadian students’ tuition is $2,866.

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