While international students are in many ways subsidizing post-secondary education, they have been rendered highly vulnerable to exploitation. Students often face greater abuse, mistreatment or exploitation at their educational institutions because of the pressure they are under to maintain their immigration status and the many barriers they face due to systemic racism. Furthermore, due to the extremely high tuition and living costs in the lower mainland, they are working off-campus in some of the most exploitable low-wage work. They are also unlikely to speak up about their working conditions. Finally, policies at the provincial and federal levels have limited their ability to access services.
Meanwhile, academic institutions have established extensive international student services on campus in some cases. These services, however, are not positioned to advocate for individual students or international students more generally. These services are compromised by being embedded within the institution that must be pressured for policy changes or to support particular students. These services have not been established or positioned to support campaigns aimed at policy changes at various levels of government. The need to have an effective and independent structure for individual and collective advocacy for international students is growing. Migrant Students United at SFU urges students societies and unions to respond to this need by advocating on international student issues.