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The Daily

The Daily. Wednesday, August 25, 1999

University tuition fees


University students will face another substantial increase in tuition fees when they return to classes this fall, but the pace of growth has eased somewhat.

Fees for undergraduate arts students for the 1999/2000 academic year have increased an average 7.1% across the country. This compares with increases of about 11% each in the two previous years and an annual average of about 9% during the past five years.

This fall, undergraduate arts students in Canada will pay on average $3,379 in tuition, up from $3,156 in 1998/99. This is more than double the tuition fees of about $1,500 in 1990/91.

Tuition fees this fall increased in every province except two - British Columbia and Quebec. British Columbia has frozen fees in public universities for the fifth consecutive year. In Quebec universities, fees for residents of the province will remain frozen at $1,668. However, in 1997/98, Quebec universities started introducing higher fees for out-of-province students. These have increased 10% this fall, following an 8.5% increase last year.

Average undergraduate arts tuition remains highest at universities in Nova Scotia ($4,113) and Ontario ($3,872). Tuition in Ontario increased 9.6% on average for the coming academic year, slower than the annual average of about 12% during the past five years.

Reduced government funding has affected tuition fees

Tuition fees have soared during the past decade, mainly the result of attempts by universities to offset reductions in government funding.

As a result, undergraduate arts fees since 1990/91 have more than doubled in all provinces except Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and British Columbia. The largest increase occurred in Alberta where average tuition fees for undergraduate arts students have almost tripled from $1,244 to $3,658.

As government funding has decreased as a percentage of universities' total operating revenue, tuition fees paid by students have become an increasingly important source of revenue for Canadian universities.

In 1996/97 - the most recent year for which data on university revenues is available - tuition fees represented 16% of operating revenue for universities, twice the level (8%) in 1980/81. During the same time period, the proportion of operating revenue represented by government contributions declined from 74% to almost 58%.

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Medicine, dentistry programs hardest hit by fee increases

Faculties of medicine and dentistry have been hit hardest by fee increases for the 1999/2000 academic year. They are also the most expensive programs in terms of average tuition.

Students in dentistry will pay $7,377 in tuition this fall, up 32.3% from 1998/99. Those in medicine will pay $5,699, a 15.6% increase.

In Ontario, fees in dentistry programs have almost quadrupled since 1995/96, while fees in medicine have doubled or quadrupled, depending on the institution. These increases were the result of a change in policy by the Ontario government. In 1998, Ontario completely deregulated fees in professional programs such as medicine, dentistry and business and law schools. It also set the maximum institution-wide average increase in tuition at 20% over two years for government-regulated programs in Ontario universities.

Fees in medicine have increased significantly elsewhere across the country, except in Quebec, Saskatchewan and British Columbia where they have remained stable over the past five years. The situation has been similar for dentistry programs in Quebec and British Columbia. However, Saskatchewan has significantly increased tuition for dentistry, due to concerns regarding availability of funds.

Average tuition fees<SUP>(1)</SUP>

Average tuition fees(1)

  1998/1999 1999/2000 1998/1999 to 1999/2000
  $ % change
Agriculture 3,183 3,364 5.7
Architecture 3,132 3,372 7.7
Arts 3,156 3,379 7.1
Commerce 3,131 3,391 8.3
Dentistry 5,576 7,377 32.3
Education 3,032 3,245 7.0
Engineering 3,292 3,606 9.5
Household sciences 3,031 3,260 7.6
Law 3,274 3,639 11.2
Medicine 4,930 5,699 15.6
Music 3,096 3,299 6.6
Science 3,150 3,357 6.6
Undergraduate 3,155 3,433 8.8
Graduate 3,400 3,681 8.3
1Using the most current enrolment data available, average tuition fees have been weighted by the number of students.

Different fees by type of program may be linked to the assumption that graduates from certain fields of study will benefit from higher than average earnings upon graduation, so these graduates should cover a growing proportion of the cost of the program during their studies. Differences in tuition fees may also reflect the higher costs attached to offering highly specialized programs.

Some universities attempting to attract more graduate students

On average, graduate students will pay $3,681 in tuition this fall, up 8.3% from the previous year, although many universities have kept their graduate tuition stable or have imposed relatively small increases for 1999/2000.

As well, a few universities have stabilized or lowered tuition for foreign students at the undergraduate and/or graduate level for the coming school year, possibly with the intention of improving their competitive position in terms of attracting foreign and graduate students.

Information is also available on additional compulsory fees and the cost of accommodation on campus. For tables or general inquiries, contact Daniel Perrier, (613-951-1503; perrdan@statcan.gc.ca). For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Brigitte Bouchard (613-951-9167; boucbri@statcan.gc.ca), Centre for Education Statistics.

Average undergraduate arts tuition<SUP>(1)</SUP>

Average undergraduate arts tuition(1)

  1990/1991 1998/1999 1999/2000 1990/1991 to 1999/2000 1998/1999 to 1999/2000
  $ % change
Canada 1,496 3,156 3,379 125.9 7.1
Newfoundland 1,344 3,150 3,300 145.5 4.8
Prince Edward Island 1,840 3,310 3,480 89.1 5.1
Nova Scotia 1,943 3,904 4,113 111.7 5.3
New Brunswick 1,898 3,194 3,329 75.4 4.2
Quebec(2) 902 2,278 2,387 164.6 4.8
Ontario 1,653 3,534 3,872 134.2 9.6
Manitoba 1,415 2,724 2,940 107.8 8.0
Saskatchewan 1,526 3,130 3,164 107.4 1.1
Alberta 1,244 3,452 3,658 194.1 6.0
British Columbia(3) 1,727 2,451 2,470 43.0 0.8
1Using the most current enrolment data available, average tuition fees have been weighted by the number of students.
2Fees for both in- and out-of-province students are included in the weighted average calculation.
3Fees at both public and private institutions are included in the weighted average calculation.