Education Indicators in Canada: Handbook for the Report of the Pan-Canadian Education Indicators Program March 2024
Section B: Financing education systems

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B1 Total expenditure on education

Indicator B1 examines total combined public and private expenditure on education in Canada and its provinces and territories.

  • Table 37-10-0131-01 presents combined public and private expenditure on educational institutions in millions of current dollars.
  • Table 37-10-0022-01 presents indices of change and percentage distributions of combined public and private expenditure on educational institutions from 2007/2008 forward in constant dollars.
  • Table 37-10-0025-01 presents combined public and private expenditure on education per capita and its index of change for Canada, provinces and territories in constant dollars
  • Table 37-10-0210-01 and table 37-10-0227-01 present annual expenditure by educational institutions per student, in Canadian and American dollars.  At the primary/secondary level, the amount spent on educational core services and ancillary services is also presented. The corresponding OECD indicator is C1, “How much is spent per student on educational institutions?”.
  • Table 37-10-0211-01 (which replaces Table 37-10-0040-01) presents combined public and private expenditure on education as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The corresponding OECD indicator is C2, “What proportion of national wealth is spent on education?”.
  • Table 37-10-0212-01 presents the proportions of total expenditure by educational institutions on current and capital expenses, including salaries and wages. The corresponding OECD indicator is C6, “On what resources and services is education funding spent?”.

Concepts and definitions

  • Total expenditure on education refers to the total combined public and private expenditures on education for Canada, or for a province/territory, in a given fiscal year.
  • Public expenditure refers to direct expenditure by public entities on educational institutions such as schools, universities and other public and private institutions delivering or supporting educational services. It also includes subsidies provided to households for undertaking education related activities. Public entities comprise federal and provincial ministries as well as local government and other public agencies.
  • Private expenditure comprises of direct expenditure funded by households or other private entities on educational institutions. Private spending on institutions supporting education services is also included. Public subsidies and private expenses undertaken outside of educational institutions such as purchases of textbooks and private tutoring are excluded.
  • Pre-elementary includes kindergarten only, while Elementary-Secondary consists of 12 years of study, Grades 1 through 12. The only exception is Quebec, where the elementary-secondary system has 6 years of elementary school and 5 years of secondary school.
  • College, in this context, refers to community colleges and vocational schools including collèges d’enseignement général et professionnel (CEGEPs) in Quebec and College of Applied Arts and Technology in Ontario. Depending on the province or territory, they are called colleges, regional colleges, centres, colleges of applied arts and technology, community colleges, institutes, schools, or CEGEPs in Quebec.
  • Universities typically offer four-year undergraduate programs leading to bachelor’s degrees. Advanced degrees include master’s degrees, generally requiring two years of study after a first degree, and doctoral degrees, which require three to five years of postgraduate study and research as well as a dissertation.
  • Post-secondary levels combined refers to the sum of college and university expenditure. It provides an overview of education spending in the higher education sector.
  • All levels combined comprises of education expenditure for all the levels, including: pre-elementary; elementary-secondary; college; and university.
  • The index refers to the annual cumulative percent change in a variable from a given base year, expressed as an index with the base year equal to one hundred. The index value of 104 at Canada level (table 37-10-0025-01), for example, five years after the base year, indicates a 4% increase in per capita combined expenditure on education between 2007/2008 and 2012/2013.
  • Gross domestic product (GDP) is the total market value of a country’s (or province’s, or territory’s) goods and services produced over the year.
  • Current expenditure refers to resources used each year by institutions as they carry out their activities. It includes research and development expenditures.
  • Capital expenditure refers to assets that last longer than one year, including spending on new or replacement equipment and construction or renovation of buildings.
  • Educational core services expenditure includes all expenditure directly related to instruction and education.
  • Ancillary services expenditure has two main components:
    • Student welfare services which includes transportation, lodging, meals and general support facilities
    • General public services which includes museums, radio and cultural programs
  • Expenditure on educational institutions includes spending on both of the following:
    • Instructional education institutions which are entities that provide instructional programmes (eg., teaching) to individuals directly in an organized group setting or through distance educationNote 
    • Non-instructional education institutions which are entities that provide advisory, administrative or professional services to other educational institutions but do not enrol students themselves.
  • The OECD average is calculated as the unweighted mean of the data values of all OECD countries for which data are available or can be estimated. It does not take into account the absolute size of the education system in each country nor the relatively small number of countries surveyed. Note that when a category is not applicable in a country or when the data value is negligible for the corresponding calculation, the value zero is imputed for the purpose of calculating OECD averages. When both the numerator and the denominator of a ratio are not applicable for a certain country, this country is not included in the OECD average.
  • Canada classifies expenditure by education level in a way that differs slightly from that of most other countries; that is, expenditure on pre-elementary education is grouped with expenditure at the elementary and secondary levels, while expenditure on postsecondary non-tertiary education (essentially technical and vocational training; ISCED level 4) is grouped with short-cycle tertiary education (ISCED level 5) expenditure. This should not affect international comparability, however, since expenditure at the elementary and secondary levels is dominant.

Methodology

Expenditure per capita

  • Per capita expenditure in table 37-10-0025-01 divides the spending on education in Canada or in a province or territory, by the total population, to show how much is spent on education per person.

Expenditure per student

Data in table 37-10-0210-01 refer to the financial year and the school year. Unlike publications prior to 2018, the financial and enrolment data here are not processed to reflect a single calendar year. These data are collected for the elementary and secondary levels as well as for the college and university sectors. The OECD figures are from the UOE data collection on education statistics, administered by the OECD.

Expenditure per student by educational institutions at a given level of education is calculated by dividing the total expenditure by educational institutions at that level by the corresponding full-time equivalent (FTE) enrolment. Only educational institutions and programs for which both enrolment and expenditure data are available are taken into account. In accordance with the OECD definition provided in the data collection manual, debt servicing expenditure is excluded.

Financial data for elementary and secondary school levels are based on three Statistics Canada surveys: the Financial Information of Elementary and Secondary Schools (FINESS) (this is the largest source of expenditure reporting); the Elementary-Secondary Education Survey (ESES) and the Survey of Federal Government Expenditures in Support of Education (FEDEX). The survey data are consolidated with federal and provincial expenditures on education, and other sources of revenue, to give a more complete picture of government expenditures.

Enrolment data for elementary and secondary school levels are the sum of enrolment in public and private schools (ESES), and enrolment in First Nations band-operated schools (Indigenous Services Canada).

In Quebec, vocational training and general education for adults are included at the secondary level. Given that a significant number of these enrolments are part time, the headcounts were adjusted to FTE enrolments using a factor of 0.6 for vocational training, and 0.2 for adult education. Students enrolled in regular programs for youth who were over 21 years of age were treated as part-time and a factor of 0.2 was applied. Due to these changes, this year’s estimate of expenditure per student is not comparable with estimates from publication years 2017 or earlier.

Financial data for the college level came from the Financial Information of Community Colleges and Vocational Schools Survey (FINCOL). For the university sector, the financial data were drawn from the Financial Information of Universities Survey (FINUNI), done in conjunction with the Canadian Association of University Business Officers (CAUBO), and the Survey of Federal Government Expenditures in Support of Education (FEDEX). These survey data are then consolidated with federal and provincial expenditures on education, and other sources of revenue, to give a more complete picture of government expenditures at the two levels.

Subsequently, educational institutions that have both enrolment as well as expenditure data are kept in the analysis. For college, if an institution has expenditure data but no enrolment, the FINCOL value for that college is subtracted from the total expenditure. For university, where there is more complete coverage, if an institution has expenditure data but no enrolment data, the enrolment data was estimated based on public information.

The enrolment figures for both the college and university levels come from the Postsecondary Student Information System (PSIS). In the case of colleges, a new methodology was used in order to calculate full-time equivalent enrolments. This method used course-level data in order to estimate a ratio for calculating the number of full-time equivalent enrolments. Apprentices were treated as full-time students due to their high resource use while they are in school sessions.

For university, student-program enrolments on a given day from the fall term were used to approximate a full-time enrolment count. Part-time students identified in this count were divided by 3.5 and added to the number of full-time students.

In addition, for both the university and college sectors, financial data are collected at an institutional level only, and thus cannot be divided by type of program. As a result, expenditures also include any expenditure for programs that are not at the diploma, Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral levels such as career, technical or professional training programs. In order to be consistent, enrolment for these additional programs have also been retained in the analysis.

For comparison with the OECD, expenditure in Canadian currency was converted into equivalent US dollars by dividing the national currency figure by the purchasing power parity (PPP) index for the gross domestic product (GDP). The value of 1.20 (for 2017/2018) was used. The PPP index was used because the market exchange rate is affected by many factors (interest rates, trade policies, economic growth forecasts, etc.) that have little to do with current relative domestic purchasing power in different OECD countries. Expenditure data are not adjusted for the differences in the cost of living across the provinces and territories.

Educational core services are the expenditure portion that covers the real mission of educational institutions, which is to provide education. There are also expenditures on ancillary services, which have two main components: student welfare services (transportation, lodging and meals) and services for the general public (museums, radio and cultural programs). In the university and college sector, ancillary services typically include bookstores, food services (dining hall, cafeterias and vending machines), residences and housing, parking, university press publishing, laundry services, property rentals, university facility rentals, theaters, and conference centers.

Education expenditure at the university level also includes expenditure on research and development, such as subsidies received by the institution for research projects and an estimate of the proportion of other current expenditures allocated to research and development.

The OECD average is calculated as the average of all OECD countries for which data are available.

Note: The corresponding OECD indicator is C1, How much is spent per student on educational institutions?.

Distribution of expenditure on education

Table 37-10-0211-01 presents combined public and private expenditure on education as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

A second indicator (table 37-10-0212-01) shows the proportion of budgets allocated to current and capital spending at different education levels. Expenditures are based on accrual and cash (or fund) accounting, depending on the data source(s) used by the provinces and territories. It also shows the proportion of current expenditure allocated to compensation of teachers and of other staff, along with other current expenditure.

The distinction between current expenditure and capital expenditure is taken from the standard definition used in national accounts. Current refers to resources used each year by institutions as they carry out their activities. It includes research and development expenditures, which are not capital expenditures. Capital covers assets that last longer than one year, including spending on new or replacement equipment and construction or renovation of buildings. Neither takes expenditure related to debt service into account.

Expenditure on educational core services includes all expenditure directly related to instruction and education; i.e., all expenditure on teachers, school buildings, teaching materials, books and administration of schools.

Limitations

  • Any historical analysis of financial data should be carried out with caution. Though institutions are provided with guidelines for survey respondents, comparisons may still be limited due to differences in the institution’s own accounting principles. In addition, inherent institutional differences such as size, budgets and physical environment may further limit comparison.
  • When making inter-jurisdictional comparisons, the following should be taken into account: variations in sources of funding; differences in fiscal year-end dates, which can vary from March 31 to June 30, and variations in provincial policies and provincial funding responsibilities.
  • Debt servicing expenditure is excluded in accordance with the OECD definition.
  • Although amounts presented in constant dollars provide a consistent picture over time, the impact of spending on education in any jurisdiction will be affected by several factors, including changes to the cost of living within jurisdictions.

Data sources

B2 Public and private expenditure on education

This subset of Indicator B2 includes data on average undergraduate and graduate university tuition fees, over time, in current dollars (table 37-10-0045-01), at the Canada level and by province and by field of study (table 37-10-0003-01 and table 37-10-0004-01). These tables are based on data from the Tuition and Living Accommodation Costs (TLAC) survey which covers the academic year (eight months).

Concepts and definitions

  • Average undergraduate and graduate tuition fees represent the tuition fees charged to full-time Canadian and international students over the academic year; that is, September to April. Average tuition fees for graduate studies (Master's and doctorates) are also presented. These average tuition fees do not include additional compulsory fees such as those for athletics, health services and student associations.
  • The fields of study classification for undergraduate and graduate programs are adapted from the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP), Statistics Canada's standard. The average tuition amounts for both types of programs are presented ranked from highest to lowest, based on the most recent year of data.
  • For tables 37-10-0003-01 and 37-10-0004-01, information is presented for the following 19 fields of study in both undergraduate and graduate programs: agriculture, natural resources and conservation; architecture; business, management and public administration; dentistry; education; engineering; humanities; law; mathematics, computer and information sciences; medicine; nursing; optometry; other health, parks, recreation and fitness; personal, protective and transportation services; pharmacy; physical and life sciences and technologies; social and behavioural sciences, and legal studies; veterinary medicine; and visual and performing arts, and communications technologies.
  • The graduate programs also include Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs; specifically, Regular MBA and Executive MBA.
  • All tuition fee amounts are presented in current dollars. To convert the current dollar amounts to constant dollar amounts for comparison over time, it is suggested that the September Consumer Price Index corresponding with the beginning of the academic year (September to August) be used. For the index and further details on converting, see Consumer Price Index, monthly, not seasonally adjusted.

Methodology

  • The Tuition and Living Accommodation Costs (TLAC) survey collects data for full-time students at Canadian degree-granting institutions that are publicly funded. The survey was developed to provide an overview of tuition and additional compulsory fees, and living accommodation costs that students can expect to pay for an academic year.
  • The target population of TLAC is all degree-granting institutions (universities and colleges) in Canada. The survey is a census with a cross-sectional design. Data are collected for all units of the target population; therefore, no sampling is done.
  • A major redesign of the Tuition and Living Accommodation Costs (TLAC) questionnaire was implemented for the 2007/2008 collection cycle, to include the standard coding structure for fields of study based on the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP). Executive MBA and Regular MBA, previously included in the "Business, management and public administration" category were presented independently under the graduate programs; this change had a substantial impact. In 2010/2011, MBA programs were excluded from the national and provincial weighted averages to eliminate the impact of the high cost of these programs on the overall tuition fee averages for graduate programs.
  • Using the most current enrolment data available, average tuition fees have been weighted by the number of students enrolled by institution and field of study.
  • For Quebec (since 1998/1999), Nova Scotia (since 2007/2008), and Newfoundland and Labrador (since 2018/2019), the weighted averages take into account the different fees paid by "in province" and "out of province" Canadian students. As of 2016/2017, undergraduate and graduate weighted averages for all provinces & territories except for Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador are calculated using the average of the lower and upper tuition values, weighted by enrolments.
  • All surveys are subject to errors. Only non-sampling errors apply to this survey given that no sampling process was used to produce the results. Each year, data comparability is performed for each university and college, and any major discrepancies are investigated with the respondent. Tuition fee data is available at the provincial level and by province and field of study. Tuition fees at the institutional level are available through Client Services upon request and for a fee; these are the raw data reported by each institution.

Limitations

  • Since the distribution of enrolment across various programs varies from period to period, caution should be exercised when making historical comparisons.

Data source

  • Survey of Tuition and Living Accommodation Costs (TLAC), Statistics Canada. For more information consult "Definitions, data sources and methods", Statistics Canada Web site, survey 3123.

University revenues

This subset of Indicator B2 presents the percentage distribution of university revenues, by source, at the Canada and provincial levels (table 37-10-0110-01). Amounts are presented in current dollars, for the financial year.

Concepts and definitions

  • Government revenues at universities captures grants and contracts from government departments and agencies at the federal, provincial, municipal, and foreign levels.
  • The federal portion of income is mainly from six major federal government agencies: The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), Health Canada (HC), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), and Canada Research Chairs. Grants and contracts from all other federal government departments and agencies are also included.
  • Grants and contracts at the provincial level include: income from provincial government departments and agencies, including provincial CFI matching grants; and provincial CFI matching income from the ministry responsible for the institution. "Income from other provinces," which includes grants from, and contracts with, provinces other than the province with jurisdiction, is also included.
  • Grants from urban transit, communication and parking authorities are examples of income from municipal governments.
  • Income from foreign nations includes grants from the National Endowment for Humanities, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation.
  • Private revenues at universities refer to those obtained from any source other than government, categorized as:
    • Student fees: Payments obtained from students directly in the form of tuition (credit and non-credit courses) and other fees.
    • Non-government grants and contracts, donations and bequests: Financial support received by colleges and universities from donors, bequests from wills, and contracts from sources other than government, the latter provided with specific stipulations.
    • Sales: Institution revenue from sales of services and products.
    • Investment: Revenue from dividends, bonds, mortgages, short-term notes, and bank interest. Includes the "Endowment" fund, a restricted fund (primarily donations), which cannot be spent. Investment income generated by endowments may be used for various purposes, which are often restricted by donors.
    • Miscellaneous: Commissions, royalties, and fees from the use of institution-owned rights or properties, fees for services rendered, library and other similar fines, rentals, net gain or loss on the sale of fixed assets, and any type of revenue not identified under other forms of revenue.

Methodology

  • Data were drawn from the Financial Information of Universities Survey (FINUNI), which was developed to provide financial information (income and expenditures) on all universities and affiliated institutions ("institution" may refer to universities, university-colleges, colleges, institutes and hospitals) in Canada. The survey is a census with a cross-sectional design, and the target population is all degree-granting institutions (universities and colleges) in Canada. Data are collected for all units of the target population; therefore, no sampling is done.
  • The collection process for FINUNI is conducted using two separate questionnaires:
    • A questionnaire developed in conjunction with the Canadian Association of University Business Officers (CAUBO) that was designed and implemented by the CAUBO Finance Committee, which comprises financial administrators from six universities. These administrators meet twice a year and any proposed changes to the questionnaire and guidelines are discussed and implemented by the Committee.
    • A non-CAUBO questionnaire, which is a virtual duplicate of the CAUBO questionnaire. Any modifications to the CAUBO questionnaire or guidelines are applied to the non-CAUBO questionnaire.
  • Ontario CAUBO universities report to the province's own collection authorities (Council of Finance Officers — Universities of Ontario [COFO]). This information is sent to Statistics Canada, where a mapping and integration process converts the COFO data into the CAUBO format database.
  • In 1999/2000, there was a break in the series, when major changes made to the CAUBO questionnaire and guidelines affected the historical comparability of the data; therefore, 1999/2000 was selected as the basis for comparison. Data from 1999/2000 onwards are comparable as they are based on the same guideline definitions.
  • "University-colleges" are part of the FINUNI universe made by CAUBO and as such are considered universities.
  • Each university (and university-college) returns its questionnaire with accompanying audited financial statements, thus ensuring data accuracy. Nevertheless, each year a data comparability review is done for each institution and any major discrepancies are investigated with the respondent.

Limitations

  • Non-CAUBO data are amalgamated with the CAUBO data at the provincial level. Data for non-CAUBO institutions are not released publicly at the institution level. They can only be released at the provincial level.
  • Comparisons of financial data over multiple years should be done with caution because of changes in generally accepted accounting principles that could alter the underlying data and changes in the guidelines that govern the reporting of the data.

Data source

  • Financial Information of Universities Survey (FINUNI), Statistics Canada. For more information, consult "Definitions, data sources and methods," Statistics Canada Web site, survey 3121.

University expenditures

This subset of Indicator B2 includes university expenditures by type of expenditure, for Canada and the provinces. Amounts are presented in current dollars and percentage distributions (table 37-10-0097-01). Expenditures figures are drawn from multiple sources including financial survey data and institutional financial reports. Some of the data are estimated to produce a complete and coherent financial picture.

Concepts and definitions

  • The capital expenditures category reflects all expenditures on capital assets by universities and is not restricted to those originating in an institution's capital fund. Capital expenditures include: acquisitions of buildings, land, major equipment and furniture; major renovations and alterations; space rental; etc.
  • Operating expenditures include the following funds: general operating; special purpose and trust; sponsored research; and ancillary enterprises. Such expenditures reflect the items that an institution purchases and consumes within a year, and those the institution purchases on an ongoing basis. Costs directly attributable to instruction such as salaries, instructional aids, administrative support, teacher development, and costs for other educators such as counselors, are included. Operating expenditures refer to:
    • Compensation, which includes gross salaries for educators and other staff (before deduction of taxes, contributions for retirement or health care plans, and other contributions or premiums for social insurance or other purposes), plus expenditure on retirement (actual or imputed expenditure by employers or third parties to finance retirement benefits for current educational personnel) and other non-salary compensation (fringe benefits). These statistics on compensation of university staff are categorized as:
      • Academic salaries – salaries paid to full- and part-time staff members engaged in instruction and research activities (includes deans, professors, associate professors, assistant professors and lecturers; also includes payments to staff members in the academic ranks for various types of leave such as administrative, academic or sabbatical).
      • Other salaries and wages - payments to all full- and part-time non-instructional (support) staff including, among others, technicians, teaching and research laboratory technicians, clerical and secretarial, professional and managerial, janitorial, trades and maintenance. Also includes payments to individuals who may hold an academic rank (or equivalent), but are engaged in activities other than instruction and research.
      • Benefits – includes the costs of institutions' contributions (with respect to salaries) for pensions (including payments for actuarial deficiencies and past service liability), group life insurance, salary continuance insurance, dental plans, Workers' Compensation, health taxes, tuition remission, Employment Insurance, and other costs of employee benefit programs. Also includes the cost of benefits paid during early retirement periods, as well as the cost of post-retirement benefits.
  • The other operating expenditures category includes all non-salary related items such as spending on tuition fees and books, spending attributable to research and development, membership fees include fees paid by the institution to organizations such as AUCC and CAUBO, utilities, school services under contract, building operations and maintenance staff and so on. Other non-salary costs include those related to the maintenance of buildings as well as supplementary costs such as lunch programs and transportation and other expenses not covered elsewhere.

Methodology

  • Data were drawn from the Financial Information of Universities Survey (FINUNI), which was developed to provide financial information (income and expenditures) on all universities and affiliated institutions (institution may refer to universities, university-colleges, colleges, institutes and hospitals) in Canada. The survey is a census with a cross-sectional design, and the target population is all degree-granting institutions (universities and colleges) in Canada. Data are collected for all units of the target population; therefore, no sampling is done.
  • The collection process for FINUNI is conducted using two separate questionnaires:
    • A questionnaire developed in conjunction with the Canadian Association of University Business Officers (CAUBO) that was designed and implemented by the CAUBO Finance Committee, which comprises financial administrators from six universities. These administrators meet twice a year and any proposed changes to the questionnaire and guidelines are discussed and implemented by the Committee.
    • A non-CAUBO questionnaire, which is a virtual duplicate of the CAUBO questionnaire. Any modifications to the CAUBO questionnaire or guidelines are applied to the non-CAUBO questionnaire.
  • Ontario CAUBO universities report to the province’s own collection authorities (Council of Finance Officers — Universities of Ontario [COFO]). This information is sent to Statistics Canada, where a mapping and integration process converts the COFO data into the CAUBO format database.
  • In 1999/2000, there was a break in the series, when major changes were made to the CAUBO questionnaire and guidelines, which affected the historical comparability of the data; therefore, 1999/2000 was selected as the basis for comparison. Data from 1999/2000 onwards are comparable as they are based on the same guideline definitions.
  • “University-colleges” are part of the FINUNI universe made by CAUBO and as such are considered universities.
  • Each university (and university-college) returns its questionnaire with accompanying audited financial statements, thus ensuring data accuracy. Nevertheless, each year a data comparability review is done for each institution and any major discrepancies are investigated with the respondent.
  • The percentages presented were calculated using the current dollar values for Canada from table 37-10-0097-01.

Limitations

  • While considerable effort is made to ensure that universities and colleges are preparing information in accordance with the prescribed guidelines, there are limitations in the comparability of the data because of differences in the underlying accounting practices followed by institutions. Institutional comparisons are subject to interpretation and clarification because of differences such as size, academic programs, structure, physical environment, management philosophy, and budgetary and accounting procedures. Therefore, comparisons of financial data over multiple years should be done with caution.
  • When making inter-jurisdictional comparisons, the following should be considered: variations in sources of funding; differences in fiscal year-end dates, which can vary from March 31 to June 30, and variations in provincial policies and provincial funding responsibilities.

Data source

Financial Information of Universities Survey (FINUNI), Statistics Canada. For more information, consult “Definitions, data sources and methods,” Statistics Canada Web site, survey 3121.

B3 Student debt

Indicator B3 provides data on student debt from government-run student loan programs, for the classes of 2010 and 2015. Using data from the National Graduates Survey (NGS), the tables look at the percentage of students who borrowed and their average debt at graduation (Table 37-10-0180-01), as well as the incidence and repayment of government student loans among graduates who did not pursue further postsecondary education (Table 37-10-0181-01) in Canada and the provinces.

Concepts and definitions

  • In the National Graduates Survey (NGS), graduates include those who graduated from: university programs leading to bachelors, masters or doctorate degrees or specialized certificates or diplomas; other postsecondary programs such as programs of a three months duration or longer that normally require secondary school completion or its equivalent for admission in colleges of applied arts and technology, CEGEPs, community colleges, technical schools and similar institutions. The NGS was conducted three years after graduation.
  • Government student loan programs include all federal and provincial student lending resources; programs under which provincial and federal governments provide loans to Canadians enrolled in full- or part-time postsecondary education, based on eligibility and need.
  • The data in Table 37-10-0181-01 include only graduates who did not pursue any further postsecondary education program; i.e., a program leading to a diploma, certificate or degree above the high school level that would take three or more months to complete when attending full-time.
  • The data presented in PCEIP may not be comparable with reports based on administrative data from student financial assistance programs in provinces, as they are based on self-reported responses.

Methodology

  • Survey information collected from graduates on student loans includes the amounts owed to both federal and provincial student loan programs as well as the amount owed to other sources. Results presented refer to borrowing from government student loan programs only. Borrowing from private sources is not included.
  • In table 37-10-0180-01 average debt at graduation for graduates is expressed in current dollars.
  • The data in table 37-10-0180-01 captures all graduates who borrowed from government student loan programs and who reported data three years after graduation.
  • In table 37-10-0180-01, the calculation of the average debt at graduation for those who borrowed from government student loan programs includes graduates who had paid off government student loans completely at graduation.
  • In table 37-10-0181-01, only graduates who still owed at graduation and at three years after graduation are reflected in the average debt numbers. Hence, it excludes those who have already paid off their debts by calculating the average debt of only the population still owing at each time.

Interjurisdictional comparability

  • Provincial data refer to the province of study, which may differ from the province of residence three years after graduation. The Canada totals do not include data for the territories.

Limitations

  • The 2018 National Graduates Survey (NGS) (class of 2015) and the 2013 NGS (class of 2009-2010) were both conducted three years after graduation, whereas previous National Graduate Surveys were conducted two years after graduation. While information on graduates at the time of graduation is comparable across cycles, information on graduate’s activities at the time of the interview is not directly comparable. For example, labour market outcomes and debt repayment pertain to status three years after graduation for the 2018 NGS (class of 2015) and the 2013 NGS (class of 2009/2010), compared to two years after graduation for other cycles of NGS.

Data source

  • National Graduates Survey (NGS), Statistics Canada. For more information, consult “Definitions, data sources and methods”, Statistics Canada Web site, survey 5012.

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