Students are paying higher tuition fees, which have increased at more than double the rate of inflation, according to Statistics Canada’s yearly round up of the cost of education, released yesterday. On average, Canadian undergraduate students will pay $5,138 in 2010-11 for one year of university, compared to $4,942 in 2009-10, a four per cent hike. The consumer price index rose by 1.8 per cent.
Across the country, there was significant variation in the tuition rate, which ranged from a low of $2,415 in Quebec to a high of $6,307 in Ontario. All but three provinces saw tuition increase to some extent. Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick saw no change in tuition fees and tuition in Nova Scotia declined (4.5 per cent) for the third year in a row.
Tuition fees for graduate students increased faster than for undergraduates, at 6.6 per cent. The national average for graduate school tuition is $5,182, ranging from a low of $2,456 in Newfoundland to a high of $7,350 in Nova Scotia. Although, like their undergraduate counterparts, Nova Scotia’s graduate students saw a decrease in fees of 4.5 per cent. In fact, all four Maritime provinces saw a reduction in tuition for graduate students this year. Master’s of Business Administration programs were the most expensive graduate programs at a national average of $21,118, and $28,773 for executive MBA programs.
As for professional programs, students in dentistry paid the highest average fees at $14,701, followed by medicine ($10,244) and pharmacy ($9,250). International undergraduate students also saw their tuition increase, at 5.2 per cent, bringing the average rate up to $16,768. Average tuition fees don’t encompass the total increase to the cost of education, as compulsory fees also rose this year to $702 from $656 in 2009-10.
Students groups were unimpressed with the continued trend towards higher tuition fees. The Canadian Federation of Students called Ontario’s status as the jurisdiction with the highest tuition rate, an “embarrassment” in a media release. “While students in Ontario pay the most, they experience the largest classes and are funded at the lowest per capita levels in Canada,” Sandy Hudson, who chairs the group’s Ontario branch, said.
Similarly, the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA), highlighted how the recession has placed financial constraints on students and their parents. “[S]tudents and families have fewer resources to pay for a post-secondary education as a result of the recession,” CASA’s national director Zach Dayler said.