Infographic: University Tuition Fees in Canada

The Globe and Mail recently published its annual national survey of undergraduates (Canadian University Report), which includes an infographic on average 2012/13 tuition fees across Canada – and one-year increase. (The source for the data is Statistics Canada).

Several findings stand out:

Two of the largest provinces in Canada have some of the highest and, respectively, lowest tuition fees in Canada. Ontario’s average stands at $7,180 per year (5.4% increase from 2011/12), while Quebec’s is two and a half lower: $2,774 (10.1% increase from previous year)! More on tuition fees as a political decision here.

The average 2012/13 tuition fees across Canada are $5,581 (5% increase from 2011/12). The average for international students studying at the undergraduate level is $18,641 (5.5% increase from previous year).

The highest undergraduate fees are in dentistry programs: $16,910.

These figures do not include additional compulsory fees which are $750 on average across Canada (3.3% increase from 2011/12).

A recent report released by Canada’s Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway recommended that Canadian post-secondary institutions may want to stop charging international students higher tuition fees than what Canadians pay.

Even among Canadian students, the cost of education is rated as the no. 1 source of stress. A recent survey conducted by BMO Bank of Montreal and Pollara indicated that – for domestic students – “the total cost of post-secondary education […] including tuition, school supplies, housing and other expenses, amounts to $14,500 a year, or nearly $60,000 for a four-year program.”

Professional Education in Canada: State-of-the-art Programs Offset Premium Price Tags

In its September 17 issue, Maclean’s magazine included a set of statistics on Canada’s professional schools. Significant information was provided on tuition levels and access to programs ranging from engineering to environmental studies. An assessment of these figures reveals an environment in which students have a wide variety of options to choose from, but many of them require tough financial decisions. The monetary investment varies quite widely across the country and across professional areas. Below, a few key findings from three fields: MBA, law and medicine.

MBA: expensive programs, but lots of choices

Canada offers a wide variety of Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs. Maclean’s points out that “tuition and program length vary considerably – the differences are often determined by the type of program – as does the average GMAT score of incoming students. The traditional MBA – two years, full time – is no longer the only way to go, with many schools offering part-time studies.” Canada also offers a large range of Executive MBA (EMBA) programs, “targeted at people who already have a career but want to take it to the next level by earning an advanced degree […]. Tuition, often covered by employers, is generally high” – over $100,000 at some schools, but these programs are among the best in the world.

The vast majority of Canada’s MBA schools have a significant population of international students – at seven of 38 schools over 50% of the student population are international students. Two universities (Thompson Rivers and Vancouver Island – both in British Columbia) have well over 75% international students in their MBA programs. As with other specialties, tuition fees vary considerably from province to province and from school to school (Quebec programs charge significantly less – for provincial residents – than programs in the rest of Canada).

While the full cost of a MBA program at Université Laval is $4,563 ($10,163 for students who are not Quebec residents), the program tuition at Toronto’s Rotman School of Management is $88,446. Carleton’s Sprott School of Business charges $15,418 for its MBA program, while tuition at Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management is $22,702.

LAW: Quebec vs. Rest of Canada

In the province of Quebec, private law is based on the “civil law” tradition (and public law follows the “common law” tradition). This makes Quebec a hybrid legal system, as opposed to the rest of Canada where the common law is the standard. For this reason, most law schools in Quebec are teaching civil law (McGill, Université de Montréal, Université du Québec à Montréal, Université de Sherbrooke, Université Laval and the University of Ottawa). McGill, Ottawa and Montreal offer, however, dual common/civil degrees or the choice between the two legal specializations (the University of Windsor and York University do the same in Ontario).

Flag of Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

Flag of Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Given the traditionally lower fees in Quebec, the yearly tuition for civil law schools is just $2,493 ($6,183 for students who are not Quebec residents). The only exception is the University of Ottawa, where the tuition for a civil law program is $8,165 per year. For common law schools the tuition fees range widely, from $2,493 (McGill, for Quebec residents) to $27,420 at the University of Toronto – a ten-fold differential! The fees at the University of Ottawa’s common law school are $14,568 per year. These figures do not include “other compulsory fees.”

MEDICINE: significant financial investment and high competition

Some of the lowest tuition fees for medical school in Canada can be found – again, unsurprisingly – in Quebec (in some cases even if you are not a provincial resident). The highest, on the other hand, are at Ontario medical schools. The average tuition at four Quebec universities – Laval, McGill, Montreal and Sherbrooke – is $3,906 yearly, not including compulsory fees ($10,302 for students who are not Quebec residents). The average yearly tuition to attend a medical school in Ontario, based on figures from six universities – McMaster, Ottawa, Northern Ontario, Queen’s, Toronto and Western – is $20,955, not including compulsory fees.

Besides the high price tag, gaining admission to one of Canada’s medical schools is in itself a difficult process, given the soaring competition for the relatively few spots. This is a reflection of the value placed by students and the Canadian society on medical education and formal qualifications, and the high level of development reached by Canada’s medical schools. Maclean’s notes that “success rates for in-province applicants are generally higher than for out-of-province.” The international students’ success rate is the highest at the University of Calgary, AB (26%), Dalhousie University, NS (18%), and the University of British Columbia (12%).

Canada’s high tuition fees and record investment in education

In its latest Education at a Glance report (2012), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) lists Canada among the countries with high levels of tuition fees, but also well-developed student-support systems. The report’s country notes confirm that Canada is “a leader in higher education, with its high attainment rates and its ability to produce a skilled workforce with generally good labour-market outcomes.” The country spends about $21,000 per post-secondary student per year – the third-highest amount among OECD countries after Switzerland and the United States.

OECD research also suggests that Canada’s model (high tuition fee and student support) “can be an effective way for countries to increase access to higher education. However, during periods of economic crisis, high levels of tuition fees can put a considerable financial burden on students and their families and can discourage some of them from entering [post-secondary] education, even when relatively high levels of student support are available. This topic is highly debated in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.” The 2012 Quebec student protests were one of the latest and most visible efforts to engage the students and the larger society in a conversation on tuition levels in this country. As indicated in a recent blog post, the choice Quebec made will inform, if not define, the conversation on university issues in the province (and beyond) for years to come.

The Cost of Education – No. 1 Source of Stress for Canadian Students: BMO

Bank of Montreal

Bank of Montreal (Photo credit: PhotoMimir)

Paying for school is rated as the #1 source of stress by Canadian post-secondary students, according to a survey conducted by BMO Bank of Montreal and Pollara in the summer of 2012. More than a quarter of the students surveyed (27 per cent) indicated they were very stressed about finances. By comparison, 22 per cent of students said they were stressed about finding a job after graduation, and 20 per cent about their academic achievements. Citing Government of Canada studies, BMO indicates that “the total cost for post-secondary education […] including tuition, school supplies, housing and other expenses, amounts to $14,500 a year, or nearly $60,000 for a four-year program.” 

A 2011 survey by BMO and Leger Marketing also found that a majority of Canadians – students (54 per cent) and parents (65 per cent) – agreed that the cost for post-secondary education should be split between parents and kids. Over half of the parents surveyed saw as their responsibility to cover between a quarter and half of their children’ post-secondary education. 43 per cent of students agreed with this position.

Fifty-one per cent of parents said they were prepared to go into debt to fund their children’s education, while 40 per cent were not. “Attending university or college is a hefty investment, so it’s essential that students and parents are on the same page when it comes to funding a post-secondary education,” said Su McVey, BMO Vice President, in September 2011.

The 2012 BMO survey found that one third (32 per cent) of the students thought they would have significant trouble paying their bills while at school. Almost half (49 per cent) use loans to help cover their expenses during post-secondary education.

Of those using loans, 58 per cent expect to graduate with more than $20,000 in debt, while 21 per cent expect to owe twice as much, according to the 2012 BMO study. Students in Atlantic Canada expect to accumulate the most debt and take the longest to repay it. The study doesn’t include information on international students in Canada.

Citing the Canadian Federation of Students and the Canada Student Loan Program, BMO indicates that “the average student debt is almost $27,000 and […] most students take nearly 10 years to pay off their loans – with some taking the maximum 14.5 years.” Lily Capriotti, BMO Vice President, pointed out that “students often underestimate the amount of debt they will accumulate or the length of time it will take to pay it off.”

While some students may ask themselves if loans are worth the trouble – or if it’s rather preferable to get a job or become an entrepreneur right after graduating high school – in most cases the money spent will yield a good return on investment. Also, from a non-financial perspective a university education is one of those key things that form an adult person and give them the confidence they need to succeed in life. Of course, most of us want to pay less for valuable things, but at the end of the day – as the saying goes – there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

For more information on university tuition in Canada click here.

Canada Ponders Tuition Cuts for International Students, Highlights Economic Benefits

Minister Fast meets with Chinese Minister of Commerce Chen Deming

Canada’s Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, Ed Fast, released a report showing that international students contributed more than CDN $8 billion to the Canadian economy in 2010, up from $6.5 billion in 2008.“The Harper government is committed to continuing to attract the best and brightest students to Canada,” said Minister Fast. “This study reaffirms our government’s commitment to international education. That is one of the reasons we are committed to refreshing our government’s Global Commerce Strategy and to developing a comprehensive plan to entrench educational links between Canada and international institutions for Canada’s long-term prosperity.”

The report found there were 218,000 full-time international students in Canada in 2010, up from 178,000 in 2008 and more than double the number of students in 1999. It estimated that international students supported 86,000 jobs and contributed $445 million in tax revenue.

“I am delighted that Canada is a destination that is growing in attraction for international students,” said Minister Fast while visiting the University of British Columbia. “The presence of international students and researchers taking advantage of Canada’s world-class facilities creates jobs and economic growth and contributes to our people-to-people ties with other countries,” such as China, France, India, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and the United States.

“Outstanding international students and researchers not only enrich our campuses but make Canada more competitive by sharing knowledge and expertise both during their time at university and afterwards,” said Stephen Toope, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of British Columbia.

A commitment to refresh Canada’s Global Commerce Strategy was announced in Economic Action Plan 2012. A more powerful international education strategy will help strengthen Canada’s engagement with emerging economies and ensure greater collaboration between Canada and institutions while boosting this country’s economic prosperity.

International news agencies, such as AFP, highlighted one of the recommendations in the report: Canadian post-secondary institutions may want to stop charging foreign students higher tuition fees than Canadians pay.

“Canada’s educational expertise is a valuable export that can be measured in comparison to other goods and service exports,” the report noted. “International students can also become a valuable source of highly skilled labor to our economy at a time when the western world is facing potential labor shortages, especially among top talent.” The authors of the study pointed out that, “given the competition in the global international education market, educational policy makers may need to re-examine the practice of differential tuitions and fees.”

To learn more about these findings, visit Attracting the Best and Brightest Students to Canada on the website of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada. An analysis of China as Canada’s strategic educational partner can be found here.

Campus Visit: Princeton University, Princeton NJ

Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist. John Nash, mathematician. Eric Schmidt, executive chairman, Google. Just three names out of countless notable individuals who graduated from, acted as faculty members at, or were closely associated with, Princeton University.

Walking on campus and visiting its key sites, one gets a distinct sense that Princeton University is a place of consequence. Its heritage buildings – exquisite pieces of Gothic architecture – help establish Princeton’s reputation in a visitor’s mind. Blair Hall, Firestrone Library, McCarter Theatre, Nassau Hall and the University Chapel are just a few outstanding structures that cannot be missed. A number of abstract sculptures, spread around the campus, provide an aesthetic connection between its distant past and its dynamic present.

English: Nassau Hall, Princeton University, NJ

English: Nassau Hall, Princeton University, NJ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Established in 1746, Princeton is a private research post-secondary institution, currently with a smaller overall enrolment than most other Ivy League universities (about 7,600 students). At the same time, it has the largest per-student university endowment in the world (some US$ 17 billion, in total). Despite its motto – Dei sub numine viget (Under God’s power she flourishes), a legacy of its Presbyterian origins – Princeton in an organization built on secular and liberal principles. 

It is not a university offering a broad range of research and doctoral programs, such as schools of medicine, business or law. Princeton’s focus, instead, is primarily on social sciences, the humanities, natural sciences and engineering. At both the undergraduate and graduate levels, expectations are high relating to students’ research-based, independent work. All Bachelor of Arts students must complete a senior thesis and all Bachelor of Science in Engineering must complete at least two terms of independent research.

The estimated cost of attendance for undergraduates in 2012-2013 is around US$ 55,000! The university provides a break-down of that figure as follows: tuition $38,650, room charge $6,950; board rate $5,680; and estimated miscellaneous expenses $3,500. “The room charge and board rate are standard for University dormitories and meal plans.  Estimated miscellaneous expenses include the residential college fee, activities fees, class dues and a one-time transcript fee.  […] This estimate does not include the cost of travel, which may range between $100 and $2,500. Students who are not covered by a family health insurance policy must purchase Student Health Plan coverage for $1,850. University charges are likely to increase modestly for 2013-14.”

Princeton provides financial aid to students in need, based on their family circumstances. An “estimator” tool is made available on the university website, designed for U.S. and Canadian applicants. The administration “encourage[s] all qualified applicants to consider Princeton, regardless of whether they can afford the full cost of attending.” The admission process is “need blind” and the university financial aid is based solely on financial need, not on scholarly merit. In addition to university grants and external scholarships, students can also apply for part-time campus jobs. (For example, a student whose gross family is between $80,000 and $100,000 a year may still receive an average grant of $43,650, covering the full tuition and 40% or room and board).

For potential applicants or simply individuals interested in visiting one of America’s oldest universities, Princeton organizes campus tours, year-round, seven days a week. Reservations are not required for groups under 15 people, but the timing and the number of daily tours vary depending on the month of the year. For up-to-date information visitors are encouraged to check the university website, which also provides suggestions on campus parking. Access to information offices may be limited during the summer months, as a smaller number of staff are present. A number of campus areas, including public and residential buildings, seem to be poorly accessible to disabled people.