As of September, PhD students will pay the same tuition fees irrespective of whether they’re domestic or international students.

This year, there are 1,179 international students in PhD programs and 4,966 domestic students. 38 of these international students already pay domestic tuition through the Connaught Scholars program.

The change to the fee structure will not affect doctoral stream master’s programs, and some doctoral program fees — namely, the Doctor of Juridicial Science, Doctor of Education, and Doctor of Music Arts — will have to be ascertained after the divisions undergo their annual budgeting process.

“We strive to remove any barriers, financial or otherwise, that graduate students might face as they look to attend our university,” said Joshua Barker, Dean of the School of Graduate Studies and Vice-Provost, Graduate Research and Education, in a statement on U of T News.

It remains to be seen how this tuition restructuring will affect funding to international students in PhD programs. The announcement on U of T News said that the financial impact of the new structure would “be partially offset by the University’s graduate funding commitment, since the University currently covers the cost of tuition and fees for many international students in eligible PhD programs.”

The difference between domestic and international tuition fees has been a hot-button political issue for years, especially at the undergraduate level. In March, Governing Council approved an increase in undergraduate tuition. These increases are regulated for domestic students, but unregulated for international students.

The announcement comes as labour negotiations continue between the university and CUPE 3902, Unit 1, which represents teaching assistants at U of T who voted for a strike mandate in December. The issues of guaranteed minimum funding and teaching assistant jobs are among the core issues at play in these negotiations. Many teaching assistants are PhD students.

This story is developing. More to follow.