According to Statistics Canada, the average international undergraduate tuition cost is now $33,623, following a 7.1% increase in the 2020/21 academic year. International students tend to pay roughly three times more than Canadians students.
However, the tuition costs have not seen blanket rises across the country. In Newfoundland and Labrador, for example, international undergraduate tuition fees have not increased, while in the nine other provinces rises ranged from 1.4% in Prince Edward Island to 9.0% in British Columbia.
The national average fee increase for graduate program international students was 3.6%, increasing to $20,120 in the latest academic year. Again, the fees did not rise in Newfoundland and Labrador, while in Saskatchewan the fee rise was highest, up by 16%.
Of the total $40.2 billion revenue institutions received in 2019/2020, $12.7bn was from tuition and other fees, according to the Financial Information of Universities and Colleges survey. Revenue from tuition and fees was up by $476.1 million compared with the previous year.
“Frankly it smacks of a cash grab by some institutions”
According to Statistics Canada, the increase “is partially due to the rising number of international students attending Canadian universities and the higher tuition fees they pay”.
At the same time funding from provincial governments has declined.
“Average Canada-wide international student tuition fee increases of 12% over two years are really significant,” Geoff Wilmshurst, vice president of Partnerships at Camosun College, told The PIE News.
“[They] are likely a combination of some institutions trying to catch up with decades long flat funding from provincial government grants, increased international student interest in Canada and little to no regulation on post-secondaries’ ability to increase international student tuition fees.
“Frankly it smacks of a cash grab by some institutions and I do think that there will eventually be a backlash by international students if fee increases continue on this kind of trajectory.”
Mike Henniger, COO at Illume Student Advisory Services, highlighted a few factors involved in the situation.
“First, institutions feel raising tuition will not be a barrier to be able to recruit students – supply and demand,” he said.
“Second, institutions were also in the budget behind due to Covid-19 implications and need to increase revenues. The University of Windsor [in Ontario] sees these rising tuitions as a branding opportunity and have done a tuition guarantee.
“Undergrad students are locked in at the tuition price of the first year of studies for five years or the duration of their program. This has proven very effective with agent partners.”
Around a third of international students were enrolled in business, management and public administration in the last five years, paying an average of $32,460 in tuition fees in 2021/22, Statistics Canada added. Since 2016, approximately two-thirds of international students were undergraduates.
While just over 12% of international undergraduate students were enrolled full-time in engineering – paying on average $37,377 for tuition fees in 2021/2022 – only 0.4% annually on average of international students were enrolled in professional degree programs.
The average tuition fees for international students in these courses range from $38,110 for law to $66,503 for veterinary medicine.