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University tuition fees

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The Daily

Thursday, October 9, 2008
2008/2009 (correction)

Canadian full-time students in undergraduate programs paid 3.6% more on average on tuition fees in the 2008/2009 academic year compared with a year earlier. This follows a 2.8% increase in 2007/2008.

Full-time undergraduate students paid an average of $4,724 in tuition fees for the 2008/2009 academic year, up from $4,558 a year earlier. This is an annual average increase of 4.4% over the tuition of $3,064 paid in 1998/1999. In contrast, inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index, rose at an annual average rate of 2.3% between 1998/1999 and 2007/2008.

Compared with a year earlier, tuition fees for full-time undergraduate students in the 2008/2009 academic year increased in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island. Fees remained virtually unchanged in Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Manitoba and Saskatchewan and declined in Nova Scotia.

The highest fees were found in Nova Scotia, despite a large decline as a result of the implementation of the Nova Scotia University Student Bursary Trust in March 2008, which pays institutions directly. In 2008/2009, $261 was deducted from the annual tuition fees of full-time students from Nova Scotia who study at 1 of the 11 institutions targeted by the trust. Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador have the lowest tuition fees.

Graduate students face smaller increase than undergrads

Overall, graduates paid 3.3% more for tuition than a year earlier compared with a 3.6% increase for undergraduate students. On average, graduate students paid $5,777 in tuition fees this fall.

Note to readers

Data presented in this release are from the survey of Tuition and Living Accommodation Costs (TLAC) for full-time students at Canadian degree granting institutions. The survey was administered from May to June 2008 and the data cover the 2008/2009 academic year.

While the survey universe was increased from 102 institutions in 2007/2008 to 138 institutions in 2008/2009, please note that for comparability purposes, tuitions for the institutions added are not reflected in the national and provincial averages provided in this release. The institutions added are colleges offering degree programs. Only tuition fees for degree programs are reflected in the results of this survey.

The provincial averages are weighted with the related enrolments. If the number of enrolments is unknown for certain given programs, these programs are excluded from the averages.

For Quebec, for the last 10 years, and for Nova Scotia, since last year, the weighted averages take into account the different fees paid by "in province" and "out of province" students.

Tuition fees and additional compulsory fees shown represent only a portion of all costs incurred for attending university. TLAC is an administrative survey with minimum response burden and resource requirement. Additionally, data in this release do not take into account the student financial assistance provided.

The tuition fees of graduate students increased in the same provinces as those of undergraduate students: Quebec, Alberta, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and British Columbia. The fees remained unchanged in Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Manitoba and in Saskatchewan and declined in Nova Scotia.

Undergraduates: Dentistry students pay the highest average fees in Canada

On average, undergraduate students in dentistry paid the highest undergraduate fees ($12,906), nearly three times the average of all disciplines, followed by students in medicine ($10,392).

Architecture and related technologies undergraduates faced the largest increase at 6.2%, while all other disciplines had increases of 4.6% or less.

At the graduate level, the regular Master of Business Administration (MBA) and the executive MBA programs were the most expensive programs, with the regular MBA program costing over twice as much as other disciplines. The executive MBA program costs about four times the cost of other disciplines. However, the executive MBA program had the second smallest increase of all graduate programs between last year and this year. The largest increases were recorded in dentistry and pharmacy.

International students pay more at all levels (correction)

Tuition fees for full-time undergraduate international students increased 3.9% on average to $14,487. Ontario (+5.1%) and New Brunswick (+4.2%) had the largest increases.

Full-time international students in graduate programs paid on average 2.9% more in 2008/2009 compared with a year earlier, with students in Quebec (+3.9%) and Ontario and Saskatchewan (+3.2% each) facing the largest increases.

Additional compulsory fees on the rise

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

Nationally the additional compulsory fees increased  3.3% from a year earlier. On average, Canadian undergraduate students paid $695 in additional compulsory fees in 2008/2009, up from $673 a year earlier.

In 2008/2009, additional compulsory fees for undergraduate students ranged from $827 in Nova Scotia to $423 in New Brunswick.

Alberta (+10.6%) posted the largest increase in additional compulsory fees for undergraduate students, while New Brunswick (+17.2%) saw the largest advance for graduate students.

Additional compulsory fees are often excluded from fee regulations and are normally determined in part by provincial departments, institutions and student organizations.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3123.

For general information, to order data, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Client Services (toll-free 1-800-307-3382; 613-951-7608; fax: 613-951-4441;, Culture, Tourism and the Centre for Education Statistics Division.

Tables. Table(s).