University tuition fees

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2011/2012  (Previous release)

Canadian full-time students in undergraduate programs paid 4.3% more on average in tuition fees for the 2011/2012 academic year this fall than they did a year earlier. This follows a 4.0% increase in 2010/2011.

On average, undergraduate students paid $5,366 in tuition fees in 2011/2012 compared with $5,146 a year earlier.

In comparison, inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index was 2.7% between July 2010 and July 2011.

Tuition fees rose in all but one province, Newfoundland and Labrador, where they have been frozen since 2003/2004.

Elsewhere, increases ranged from 1.4% in Manitoba to 5.1% in Ontario. New Brunswick ended three years of frozen tuition fees with a 3.6% increase for 2011/2012. Tuition fees in Nova Scotia rose 4.3%, following three years of declines.

On average, undergraduate students in Ontario paid the highest fees ($6,640) in Canada, followed by students in New Brunswick who paid $5,853.

Note to readers

Data presented in this release are from the Survey of Tuition and Living Accommodation Costs for Full-time Students at Canadian Degree-granting Institutions. The survey was administered from April to July 2011 and the data cover the 2011/2012 academic year.

It is important to note that tuition fee increases are generally regulated by provincial policies. However, some programs may be exempted from these policies resulting in possible increases that exceed provincial limits.

The national and provincial tuition fee averages are weighted with the latest related enrolments available, which are 2008 in this case. If the number of enrolments is unknown for a given program, the program is excluded from the averages. The same student enrolment figures are used for the weighting of both years (2010/2011 and 2011/2012), thereby permitting comparison of changes in the tuition fees only.

The master of business administration programs have been excluded from the national and provincial weighted averages to eliminate the affect of the high cost of these programs on the overall tuition fee average. Dental, medical and veterinary residency programs offered in teaching hospitals and similar locations that may lead to advanced professional certification have also been excluded.

For Quebec, since 1998/1999, and for Nova Scotia, since 2007/2008, the weighted averages take into account the different fees paid by "in province" and "out of province" students.

As the distribution of enrolment across the various programs varies from period to period, caution must be exercised when making long-term historical comparisons.

Data in this release do not take into account financial assistance or tax rebates provided to students. Tuition fees and additional compulsory fees represent only a portion of all costs incurred for attending university.

Undergrads in Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador continued to have the lowest average fees, $2,519 and $2,649 respectively.

Higher fees for Canadian graduate students

At the national level, graduate students paid an average of $5,599 in tuition fees for the 2011/2012 academic year, up 3.7%.

Fees for graduate students rose in every province except Newfoundland and Labrador. Increases ranged from 0.1% in Alberta to 5.5% in Ontario.

Fees in Nova Scotia rose 2.4% for 2011/2012 following a 4.6% decline the year before.

Graduate students in Ontario paid the highest fees ($7,578), followed by students in Nova Scotia ($7,326) and British Columbia ($7,303).

Canadian undergraduates: Dentistry students still pay highest average fees

Undergraduate students in dentistry paid the highest average undergraduate fees ($16,024) in 2011/2012, as was the case for the three previous years. They were followed by students in medicine ($11,345) and pharmacy ($9,806).

Undergraduate students in pharmacy experienced the largest increase (+8.8%). They were followed by dentistry students and law, legal professions and studies students with a 6.4% rise, while increases in other fields ranged from 3.1% for education to 6.0% for business, management and public administration. There was a 0.4% decrease for the field of visual and performing arts, and communications technologies.

Master of business administration programs most expensive among graduate programs

At the graduate level, the most expensive programs were the executive master of business administration (MBA) with tuition fees of $37,501, and the regular MBA program, at $21,528.

Among all programs for graduate students, two recorded declines in tuition fees at the national level: visual and performing arts and communications technologies (-4.4%) and veterinary medicine (-0.1%).

The largest increases occurred in law, legal professions and legal studies (+20.7%) and the regular MBA program (+5.9%).

International undergraduates face a similar increase as their Canadian counterparts

Nationally, average tuition fees for international undergraduate students increased 4.3% to $17,571 in 2011/2012, compared with a 5.2% advance in 2010/2011.

The increase for international undergraduate students was identical to the 4.3% gain for their Canadian counterparts.

Ontario (+6.1%) recorded the largest increase in international undergraduate tuition fees, while they remained unchanged in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Average tuition for international full-time students in graduate programs rose 1.1% to $12,802, compared with a 3.7% increase for Canadian graduate students.

Graduate fees for international full-time students increased in seven provinces, led by Saskatchewan (+11.0%) and Prince Edward Island (+6.0%). Meanwhile, international full-time students in graduate programs paid lower tuition fees in Quebec (-2.4%) and British Columbia (-0.5%), while fees were unchanged in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Additional compulsory fees on rise

Nationally, additional compulsory fees for Canadian undergraduate students increased 5.5% in 2011/2012 compared with the previous year. On average, these students paid $820 in additional compulsory fees, up from $777 a year earlier.

In 2011/2012, additional compulsory fees for undergraduate students ranged from $212 in Newfoundland and Labrador to $1,399 in Alberta. For the same provinces, compulsory fees for graduate students ranged from $229 to $1,133, respectively.

New Brunswick posted the largest increase in additional compulsory fees for both undergraduate (+21.5% to $430) and graduate students (+17.6% to $475) students. For graduate students, compulsory fees declined in one province: Nova Scotia (-7.5%).

Services included in additional compulsory fees vary from institution to institution, and can change over time. Typically, they include fees for athletics, student health services and student associations, as well as other fees that apply to full-time Canadian students.

Since 2010/2011, "partial" compulsory fees such as health plan and dental plan fees, which students can choose not to pay if they provide proof of comparable coverage, have not been included in calculating the weighted average for compulsory fees.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3123.

For more 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; educationstats@statcan.gc.ca), Tourism and the Centre for Education Statistics Division.