Statistics Canada - Statistique Canada
Skip main navigation menuSkip secondary navigation menuHomeFrançaisContact UsHelpSearch the websiteCanada Site
The DailyCanadian StatisticsCommunity ProfilesProducts and servicesHome
CensusCanadian StatisticsCommunity ProfilesProducts and servicesOther links

Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.

Media Room Search The Daily View or print The Daily in PDF format. Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader The Daily archives Latest release from the Labour Force Survey Latest release from the Consumer Price Index Recently released products Latest economic indicators Release dates Get a FREE subscription to The Daily Information about The Daily The Daily
Tuesday, August 12, 2003

University tuition fees


When Canada's undergraduate university students return to school this fall, they can expect to pay on average 7.4% more in tuition fees, the biggest increase in four years.

right click the chart to save it.

Undergraduate students will pay an average of $4,025 in tuition fees for the 2003/04 academic year, up from $3,749 in 2002/03. This is more than double the average of $1,464 in 1990/91, the result of significant increases during the 1990s.

Although the rate of increase has been slower in the last three years than during the 1990s, average tuition fees continue to rise faster than inflation.

From 1990/91 to 1999/2000, undergraduate tuition fees rose by an average of 9.6% per year. However, beginning this decade, the rate of increase of tuition fees has slowed to an annual average of 4.9%.

Note to readers

Average tuition and additional fees are weighted by the number of students enrolled by institution and field of study using the most current enrolment data available. All fees are reported in current dollars.

For the second consecutive year, British Columbia will post the largest increase in average undergraduate fees, up 30.4% on the heels of last year's 25.7% rise. These increases followed the lifting of a six-year freeze on tuition fees in 2002.

right click the chart to save it.

In 2003/04, undergraduate university students in British Columbia will pay an average of $4,140, surpassing the national average ($4,025) for the first time in eight years.

Tuition fees decline only in Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador is the only province in which tuition fees will decline for 2003/04. Average undergraduate tuition fees in the province will drop 4.5% to $2,606, following a 10.0% drop during each of the previous two years.

This marks the fourth year in a row in which university fees in Newfoundland and Labrador have remained stable or declined. Universities in Manitoba have also frozen tuition fees for four consecutive years. Tuition fees at universities in Newfoundland and Labrador and Manitoba are among the lowest in Canada.

Average undergraduate tuition fees for 2003/04 remain highest in Nova Scotia at $5,557, followed by Ontario at $4,923. Ontario's average increase of 5.5% is somewhat below the national average of 7.4%.

During the past four years, increases in Ontario have ranged from 3.9% to 5.5%, well below the double-digit gains recorded between 1994/95 and 1999/2000.

Fees will be frozen for the seventh straight year at $1,675 for residents of Quebec attending universities in Quebec, the lowest level in the country. However, students from other provinces attending universities in Quebec will have to pay $4,300 on average, up 2.9%.

Biggest increases in tuition in dentistry, law and medicine

The biggest increases in tuition fees this fall will occur for students in dentistry, law and medicine. These also continue to be the most expensive programs.

Average tuition fees1
  2002/03 2003/04 2002/03 to 2003/04
  Current $ % change
Agriculture 3,301 3,487 5.6
Architecture 3,524 3,586 1.8
Arts 3,617 3,810 5.3
Commerce 3,743 3,991 6.6
Dentistry 9,703 11,733 20.9
Education 3,019 3,216 6.5
Engineering 3,865 4,371 13.1
Household Sciences 3,486 3,669 5.3
Law 5,021 5,995 19.4
Medicine 8,063 9,406 16.7
Music 3,586 3,753 4.7
Science 3,728 3,954 6.1
Undergraduate 3,749 4,025 7.4
Graduate 4,867 5,199 6.8
1Using the most current enrolment data available, average tuition fees have been weighted by the number of students. Fees at both public and private institutions have been included in the calculations.

Average tuition fees in dentistry will rise 20.9% to $11,733. Dentistry students in Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Alberta will face the largest increases, ranging from 45.1% in Alberta to 55.1% in Saskatchewan.

The highest fees will be paid by dentistry students in Saskatchewan ($30,178) and in Ontario ($17,087).

Medical students will pay $9,406 on average this year, up 16.7%, while law students will pay $5,995 on average, a 19.4% increase. Tuition fees for medicine and law are still highest in Ontario and Nova Scotia.

Tuition for engineering will increase 13.1% on average to $4,371. Fees in engineering are rising a significant 30.9% in British Columbia and 12.5% in Ontario.

Fees for graduate, international students also rising

Canadian students in graduate programs are facing increases similar to the undergraduate level, with average tuition rising 6.8% to $5,199. This is the smallest increase since 1994/95. The largest increases for graduate programs are 13.1% in Alberta and 12.9% in British Columbia.

Graduate students in Ontario will still pay the highest fees in the country ($8,376), followed by those in Nova Scotia ($6,898). Graduate fees are down 5.0% in Newfoundland and Labrador, and they remain frozen in Manitoba for the second consecutive year.

Graduate fees remain lowest in Quebec, where they will be frozen for Quebec residents for the sixth consecutive year.

International students also face increases in tuition. At the undergraduate level, average tuition fees for international students will increase 7.5% to $11,256. Graduate tuition fees will increase 6.3% to $10,775 on average.

Undergraduate tuition fees for international students will increase in all provinces except Manitoba, which has the lowest fees at $5,706.

British Columbia will have the highest average undergraduate fees for international students at $13,440. Graduate programs for international students at universities in Ontario will be the most expensive, at $14,205.

Additional compulsory fees on the rise

The bundle of services included in additional compulsory fees varies from one institution to the next and can also change over time. Typically, they include fees for recreation and athletics, student health services, student association and other fees that apply to undergraduate students.

Undergraduate students will pay an average of $623 in additional compulsory fees for the coming academic year, up 9.0%. Average additional fees will increase in every province. These fees vary from $302 in New Brunswick to $694 in Ontario.

Students in British Columbia will face the highest increase in average compulsory fees this fall, up 35.4% to $584. The increase is due mainly to a referendum approved by students at University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University to include transportation fees for the U-Pass program in the student association fees.

Average additional compulsory fees1
  2002/03 2003/04 2002/03 to 2003/04
  Current $ %
Canada 571 623 9.0
Newfoundland and Labrador 446 450 0.9
Prince Edward Island 448 468 4.5
Nova Scotia 390 430 10.3
New Brunswick 272 302 11.0
Quebec 654 685 4.8
Ontario 638 694 8.8
Manitoba 527 541 2.7
Saskatchewan 507 554 9.4
Alberta 513 530 3.2
British Columbia 432 584 35.4
1Using the most current enrolment data available, average additional compulsory fees have been weighted by the number of students per institution. Fees at both public and private institutions are included in the weighted average calculations.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3123.

Information is also available on the cost of accommodation on campus.

For general information or to order data, contact Client Services (1-800-307-3382; 613-951-7608; To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Holly Shum (613-951-7556;, Culture, Tourism and the Centre for Education Statistics.

Average undergraduate tuition fees1
  1993/94 1998/99 2002/03 2003/04 1993/94 to 2003/04 1998/99 to 2003/04 2002/03 to 2003/04
  Current $ % change
Canada 2,023 3,064 3,749 4,025 98.9 31.4 7.4
Newfoundland and Labrador 2,000 3,216 2,729 2,606 30.3 -19.0 -4.5
Prince Edward Island 2,509 3,327 3,891 4,133 64.7 24.2 6.2
Nova Scotia 2,701 4,074 5,214 5,557 105.8 36.4 6.6
New Brunswick 2,385 3,225 4,186 4,457 86.9 38.2 6.5
Quebec2 1,550 1,803 1,851 1,862 20.2 3.2 0.6
Ontario 2,076 3,640 4,665 4,923 137.2 35.2 5.5
Manitoba 2,272 3,149 3,144 3,155 38.9 0.2 0.3
Saskatchewan 2,341 3,279 4,286 4,644 98.4 41.6 8.3
Alberta 2,209 3,519 4,165 4,487 103.1 27.5 7.7
British Columbia 2,240 2,525 3,176 4,140 84.9 64.0 30.4
1Using the most current enrolment data available, average tuition fees have been weighted by the number of students enrolled by institution and field of study. Fees at both public and private institutions are included in the weighted average calculations.
2Both in and out-of-province students are included in the weighted average calculations.

Home | Search | Contact Us | Français Return to top of page
Date Modified: 2003-08-12 Important Notices