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CAUT Bulletin Archives

September 2000

University Tuition Fees Increase Again

New numbers published by Statistics Canada reveal university tuition doubled in a decade.

Undergraduate arts students will pay an average of 3 per cent more in university fees for the 2000/01 academic year to an average of $3,378, according to a recent report by Statistics Canada. The 2000/01 level is more than double the average tuition of about $1,500 at the beginning of the 1990s.

For the fourth consecutive year, graduate students will face higher average fee increases than their undergraduate counterparts. In 2000/01, they will pay $4,020 in tuition, up 14.1 per cent from the previous year. Since 1996/97, graduate students have seen tuition fees rise about 13 per cent per year, compared with 8 per cent a year for undergraduates. Graduates' fee increases are largest in Nova Scotia, Ontario and Alberta.

Tuition fees for professional faculties have continued their substantial rise as well. The two faculties with the largest fee increases for 2000/01 are law, (+18.2 per cent), and music (+11.3 per cent).

None of the tuition figures include ancillary fees which vary from a few hundred dollars to more than $1,300. Increases vary from institution to institution, with the largest increase at Ryerson where ancillary fees more than doubled to an average of $536.

Undergraduate tuition fees will be frozen this fall at universities in several provinces, including Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, Quebec (for residents only), Saskatchewan (at the University of Regina) and in British Columbia (at public institutions only) for the sixth consecutive year. Manitoba students are receiving a 10 per cent rebate from the provincial government for 2000/01.

Tuition fees will increase at universities in four provinces: Nova Scotia, Ontario, Alberta and New Brunswick. The highest average increase, 7.5 per cent, will be in Nova Scotia, where average undergraduate arts fees, at $4,408, will be the highest in Canada. The average undergraduate arts tuition at Ontario universities, $3,971, remains the nation's second highest.

Tuition fees increased during the 1990s as universities attempted to make up for reductions in government funding. 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 more than tripled from $1,244 to $3,841.

The lowest undergraduate fees in Canada will be for university students who are residents of Quebec where tuition has been frozen for the fourth year at $1,668. Quebec resident students will continue to pay less than half the tuition fees of those in other provinces in virtually all fields of study. British Columbia had the lowest overall arts tuition fee increases during the previous decade -- less than 50 per cent from $1,727 to $2,520. British Columbia now has the second-lowest average arts fees, after Quebec.

According to the most recent data on university finances, released by Statistics Canada in The Daily on July 25, government funding to universities increased in 1998/99 for the first time since 1992/93. As a result, government grants and contracts accounted for 55 per cent of total university revenue in 1998/99, unchanged from the previous year, following nearly two decades of steady decline. In 1981/82, government contributions made up 74 per cent of university revenues.

In 1998/99, tuition fees for credit courses made up 17 per cent of university revenue, more than double the proportion of 8.3 per cent in 1981/82.

University tuition fees from Statistics Canada, The Daily, Aug. 28, 2000 (